The Bank of Japan discussed the need for its new climate change program to be flexible because there’s still no broad agreement on what projects will be considered environmentally friendly.
Board members debated the issue at the June meeting, where the BOJ announced it will introduce a new climate-focused lending program, according to the summary of discussions released Monday.
The summary, which doesn’t identify the speakers, shows the BOJ grappling with one of the main challenges facing policymakers as they take on climate change and its impacts on the economy: coming up with clear definitions of what is green.
The BOJ’s new program “should be flexible since the external environment surrounding these issues is fluid,” including the issue of how to classify projects as climate-friendly, known as taxonomies, one board member is cited as saying.
“The Bank will provide funds to financial institutions for various investments or loans that they make to address climate change issues based on their own decisions,” according to another opinion cited in the summary. “This measure will enable the Bank to avoid direct involvement in micro-level resource allocation.”
The BOJ is set to offer more details of the new program at next month’s meeting and is aiming to start it before the year’s-end.
If the BOJ takes a more arm’s-length approach that would mark a difference from the Bank of England, for example, which last month said it will actively shift corporate bond purchases toward firms doing the most to fight climate change. The European Central Bank is also discussing the possibility of buying so-called green bonds.
“The BOJ is trying to show it’s not behind on this major topic, but what it’s doing is different from the European central banks,” said economist Tomoyuki Ota at Mizuho Research & Technologies. “The BOJ’s stance is that it will create a lending program and banks can use it if they want to, but the BOJ won’t be the one choosing who is green and who isn’t.”
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