ECB economy-wide climate stress test

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Banque centrale européenne

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Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humankind this century. If left unchecked, it is likely to result in more frequent and severe climatic events, with the potential to cause substantial disruption to our economies, businesses and livelihoods in the coming decades. Yet the associated risks remain poorly understood, as climate shocks differ from the financial shocks observed during previous crises. This paper describes the ECB’s economy-wide climate stress test, which has been developed to assess the resilience of non-financial corporates (NFCs) and euro area banks to climate risks, under various assumptions in terms of future climate policies. This stress test comprises three main pillars: (i) climate-specific scenarios to project climate and macroeconomic conditions over the next 30 years; (ii) a comprehensive dataset that combines climate and financial information for millions of companies worldwide and approximately 1,600 consolidated euro area banks; (iii) a novel set of climate-specific models to capture the direct and indirect transmission channels of climate risk drivers for firms and banks.
The results show that there are clear benefits to acting early: the short-term costs of the transition pale in comparison to the costs of unfettered climate change in the medium to long term. Additionally, the early adoption of policies to drive the transition to a zero-carbon economy also brings benefits in terms of investing in and rolling out more efficient technologies. The results also show that, although the effects of climate risk would increase moderately, on average, until 2050 if climate change is not mitigated, they would be concentrated in certain geographical areas and sectors. When comparing the effects of transition and physical risk, the outcomes indicate that physical risk would be more prominent in the long run, especially if policies to transition towards a greener economy were not introduced. Finally, the results suggest that for corporates and banks most exposed to climate risks, the impact would potentially be very significant, particularly in the absence of further climate mitigating actions. Climate change thus represents a major source of systemic risk, particularly for banks with portfolios concentrated in certain economic sectors and specific geographical areas.

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