Sens. Warren, Gillibrand, Van Hollen urge Head of Treasury to tackle climate crisis

On Monday, U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) urged John Morton, the first Climate Counselor at the new Climate Hub at the U.S. Department of Treasury, to take action in tackling the climate crisis.

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Calling the climate crisis a threat to the country’s health, security, and financial system, the Congress members asked Morton to let Congress know what he would do to respond to the climate crisis threat.

“We are seeking information on how you plan to fulfill this role in the months ahead, including how you intend to coordinate a strategy in response to President Biden’s recent Executive Order, which directs Treasury to issue a report on how Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) member agencies are integrating climate-related financial risk into their policies and programs,” the senators wrote. “Given that FSOC is comprised of a mix of regulators – at both the federal and state levels – with potentially differing priorities, it is imperative that you wield your leadership position in the Climate Hub to support FSOC’s efforts to align these financial regulators and implement strong guidelines to ensure that banks and financial institutions, which continue to finance risky fossil fuel investments, are adequately prepared for climate-related disruptions.”

The Climate Counselor position in the Climate Hub was created in April by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen as part of the department’s efforts to combat climate change through a coordinated climate strategy.

“We are glad to see that Treasury is committed to exercising its unique responsibilities to develop and deploy economy-wide strategies to mitigate climate-related risks, and we look forward to working together to use every tool available, as quickly as we can,” the senators said in their letter. “We urge you to develop and implement the bold and long overdue agenda that is necessary to facilitate the transition to a clean energy economy and combat the urgent climate crisis facing us,” wrote the senators.

The letter asks that Morton respond by Aug. 16, 2021, and let the senators know what he saw as the role of the Climate Hub in helping Treasury meet President Biden’s Climate-Related Financial Risk executive order; what actions he will be taking, and when, to coordinate financial regulator to align them on climate risk; what guidance he has provided to the financial sector to assess environmental risks and what are the most significant challenges facing a strong regulatory agenda to ensure the financial system is adequately prepared for climate-related disruptions, among other issues.