PWYP-US Director Statement in Response to Biden Climate Finance Executive Order
The following is a statement by Kathleen Brophy, Director of Publish What You Pay–United States
“PWYP-US welcomes the Biden Administration’s long-awaited executive order on climate-related financial risk and commends the President for this important step in addressing the long standing vulnerabilities in the domestic economy and financial system posed by climate-related financial risk.
I am especially pleased by the directives to senior White House officials and members of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) to promptly develop strategies to comprehensively mitigate this financial and economic risk through a whole-government approach mandating action from all relevant agencies. While we appreciate the relative promptness of these directives, PWYP-US supports calls by the Stop the Money Pipeline to fast track publication of these strategies and action plans by the United Nations climate change conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland on November 1, 2021. This will help ensure that the United States government comes to the COP26 deliberations with serious and actionable plans that demonstrate bold leadership and encourage other governments to follow suit.
Fortunately, many financial agencies began making progress on this issue long before this executive order. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as an independent agency is already preparing reforms to current disclosure rules for US-listed companies to ensure that investors and the general public have the information they need to understand the level of climate-related financial risk present in their investments. As part of this effort, PWYP-US is working to ensure that the SEC and other financial agencies prioritize the fossil fuel industry as a key generator of risk in their regulatory reform efforts, considering that the costs of inaction by this industry will reverberate throughout the entire market. Outdated regulations that let the fossil fuel industry operate under business as usual conditions will not allow us to tackle the risks of financial exposure to a market in terminal decline. This is why Publish What You Pay-US plans to work with allies to ensure that regulations targeting financial flows to the fossil fuel sector are reformed urgently, as broader efforts to address climate-financial risk get underway.
In addition to these financial reforms, PWYP-US agrees with the Administration’s framing of the opportunities presented by the energy transition and welcomes the opportunity to work with the Administration and allies toward an evolution away from extractive economics that binds the health of our economy to the harmful exploitation of workers, communities, and the environment. As we address the reality of the energy transition and prepare for fossil fuels to be displaced as the dominant energy source underpinning our global economy, we must recognize the inevitability of these future market changes and work now to ensure fossil-fuel dependent workers and local economies are equipped to not only survive, but thrive as a result of this transition.
Companies, investors and policy makers who continue to encourage fossil fuel economic dependency are engaging in an increasingly short-sighted, and risky attempt to delay the inevitable. By doing so, they are deliberately prioritizing short-term profits over the long term economic well-being of the workers and communities they claim to represent, given that fossil fuel dependence is not economically viable in the long term. We firmly believe that forward-thinking economic and financial policy reform is the only tenable pro-worker and pro-economy approach and are glad to see action from the Biden Administration to help build a new, resilient, and sustainable economy.”