The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on Wednesday announced the formation of a “Climate Risk Unit” to support the agency’s efforts to determine the role of derivatives in addressing climate-related risks.
The announcement comes on the heels of a handful of similar initiatives launched by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in recent weeks with regard to U.S. markets. The agencies’ actions are part of a large-scale push under the Biden administration to confront climate change and enhance environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ideals.
“Climate change poses a major threat to U.S. financial stability, and I believe we must move urgently and assertively in utilizing our wide-ranging and flexible authorities to address emerging risks,” said Acting CFTC Chairman Rostin Behnam in a press release. “The CFTC’s unique mission focused on risk mitigation and price discovery puts us on the front lines of this effort. Leveraging the CFTC’s personnel and expertise demonstrates our commitment to taking thoughtful and deliberate next steps toward building a climate-resilient financial system.”
The new risk unit at the CFTC would be made up of staff across the regulator’s offices. The unit would be positioned to “interact with the CFTC’s regulatory and supervisory framework, including the identification of areas where refinements or modifications could be made either to the products or to the CFTC’s approaches,” according to the regulator. Its goal would be to “ensure the agency remains a helpful participant in all relevant discussions” regarding climate and ESG.
In addition to the CFTC and SEC, the Treasury Department under Janet Yellen has indicated it will prioritize studying how climate change can affect the economy. Other regulators are likely to follow suit in their respective areas once President Joe Biden establishes leadership at each agency.
Biden has yet to announce his nomination to lead the CFTC. Behnam, who was named acting chair in January, has a history of stumping for enhancements in the area of climate change, including his spearheading of a nearly 200-page report on managing climate risk in the U.S. financial system that was published in September.