Investment Strategies

Are Debt, Digital And Climate Transforming Central Banking, Broader Economy?

Fabrizio Pagani 17 May 2021


Obviously, the banking system will also be deeply affected, with the possibility of a drastic disintermediation of commercial banks.

At the current stage, no final decision of issuing CBDC has been taken by any major central bank. In this changing and uncertain environment, central banks - and governments - need to act and react fast if they want to retain monetary sovereignty.

Perhaps CBDCs are becoming an inevitable necessity, on top of being useful tools.

Climate change is a major threat to mankind. Its impact on economic activities cannot be underestimated.

Fighting climate change appears far beyond the remit of central banks. However, climate change has an impact on the economy, including on financial and even price stability. [8] There is therefore growing consensus that central banks, without being the main actors, must play a role. This role, which is advocated by many as part of the mobilisation of the whole of society against climate change, could cut across monetary policy, financial stability, prudential regulation and supervision.

Central banks are devoting resources to study climate change and its implications for monetary policy. The Swedish Riksbank, the Bank of England, the ECB and more recently the Fed have set up specific processes for working groups to study the matter. [9]

In 2017 the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) was created, which gathers over 80 monetary authorities and financial regulators across the world. The Fed joined in December 2020. The NGFS helps “strengthening the global response required to meet the goals of the Paris agreement and to enhance the role of the financial system to manage risks and to mobilise capital for green and low-carbon investments in the broader context of environmentally sustainable development.” [10] A recent NGFS document provides a range of options for central banks’ action around three axis: credit operations, collateral and asset purchase. They are summed up in the following table [11].

Selected stylised options for adjusting operational frameworks to climate-related risks

(1)      Adjust pricing to reflect counterparties’ climate-related lending; and 
(2)      Adjust pricing to reflect the composition of pledged collateral.

Make the interest rate for central bank lending facilities conditional on the extent to which a counterparty’s lending (relative to a relevant benchmark) is contributing to climate change mitigation and/or the extent to which they are decarbonising their business model.

Charge a lower (or higher) interest rate to counterparties that pledge a higher proportion of low-carbon (or carbon-intensive) assets as collateral or set up a credit facility (potentially at concessional rates) accessible only against low-carbon assets.


[1] Ben S. Bernanke, Monetary Policy in a new Era, Brookings Institutions, paper prepared for conference on Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy, Peterson Institute, Washington DC, October 12-13, 2017
[2] ECB Press Release, Consolidated financial statement of the Eurosystem as at 16 April 2021,
[3] Federal Reserve, Credit and Liquidity Programs and the Balance Sheet,, as at 20 April 2021
[4] A 2021 BIS survey of central banks found that 86% are actively researching the potential for CBDCs, 60% were experimenting with the technology and 14% were deploying pilot projects,, as at 29 April 2021
[5] For example, Morten Linnemann Bech, Rodney Garratt, Central bank cryptocurrencies, BIS Quarterly Review, September 2017.
[6], October 2020. See also Introductory remarks by Fabio Panetta, Member of the Executive Board of the ECB, at the ECON Committee of the European Parliament, 14 April 2021,
[7], October 2020
[8] FSB, The Implications of Climate Change for Financial Stability, 23 November 2020; and Celso Brunetti, Benjamin Dennis, Dylan Gates, Diana Hancock, David Ignell, Elizabeth K. Kiser, Gurubala Kotta, Anna Kovner, Richard J. Rosen, Nicholas K. Tabor, Climate Change and Financial Stability, Feds Notes, 19 March 2021
[9] Riksbank Executive Board, Sustainability strategy for the Riksbank, 16 December 2020;; Lael Brainard, Financial Stability Implications of Climate Change, 23 March 2021
[10], 13 September 2019
[11] NGFS, Adapting central bank operations to a hotter world. Reviewing some options, March 2021


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