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EBA Plans to Overhaul Capital Requirements to Address ESG Risks

In a significant move to address environmental and social risks in the banking sector, the European Banking Authority (EBA) is set to revise its capital requirement frameworks. The EBA, under the leadership of Chairman Jose Manuel Campa, is looking to make banks include these risks in their required industry-wide reserves. The initiative aims to tackle growing concerns among regulators regarding the potential threats to financial stability posed by Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors, including climate change and inequality.

EBA Plans to Overhaul Capital Requirements to Address ESG Risks

Chairman Campa explained the EBA's approach, stating that the agency has identified immediate solutions for minimum requirements (pillar 1) and intends to introduce other changes gradually. Some changes may require new legislation, as outlined in the EBA's recently published report. This marks a significant shift in focus, as regulators had previously concentrated on bank disclosure and individual bank-specific risks (pillar 2) due to a lack of sufficient data and methods to assess ESG risks across the entire banking sector.

Notably, not everyone in the banking industry is on board with this approach. The European Banking Federation expressed its disagreement with using pillar 1 to address climate risks. Their argument centers on the belief that capital assessments should account for variations in bank balance sheets and that predicting losses based on uncertain scenarios may be unreliable for setting capital levels.

Furthermore, EU bank BNP Paribas SA raised concerns that increasing capital requirements could potentially hinder banks from providing transition financing while not necessarily improving the industry's overall resilience.

The EBA report outlines both short and long-term adjustments that banks and national supervisors should consider. These adjustments include reevaluating collateral values, integrating environmental risks into trading book risk limits, internal trading boundaries, and new product development. The report also emphasizes the need to ensure that external credit assessments factor in environmental and social considerations as drivers of credit risk.

The EBA's endeavor reflects the increasing recognition of the importance of addressing ESG risks in the financial sector, with a focus on enhancing overall stability and resilience in the face of challenges related to climate change and social inequality. While the approach may face opposition from some industry players, it marks a significant step toward a more sustainable and risk-aware banking sector.



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