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Rising Temperatures, Falling Ratings: The Effect of Climate Change on Sovereign Creditworthiness

Author

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  • Patrycja Klusak

    (Norwich Business School, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom; Bennett Institute for Public Policy, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB3 9DT, United Kingdom)

  • Matthew Agarwala

    (Bennett Institute for Public Policy, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB3 9DT, United Kingdom; Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, United Kingdom; Tobin Center for Economic Policy, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06511)

  • Matt Burke

    (Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QY, United Kingdom)

  • Moritz Kraemer

    (Chief Economist, LBBW (Landesbank Baden-Württemberg), 70173 Stuttgart, Germany; Centre for Sustainable Finance, SOAS University, London WC1H 0XG, United Kingdom; House of Finance, Goethe University, 60323 Frankfurt, Germany)

  • Kamiar Mohaddes

    (Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1AG, United Kingdom; King’s College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1AG, United Kingdom)

Abstract

Enthusiasm for “greening the financial system” is welcome, but a fundamental challenge remains: financial decision makers lack the necessary information. It is not enough to know that climate change is bad. Markets need credible, digestible information on how climate change translates into material risks. To bridge the gap between climate science and real-world financial indicators, we simulate the effect of climate change on sovereign credit ratings for 109 countries, creating the world’s first climate-adjusted sovereign credit rating. Under various warming scenarios, we find evidence of climate-induced sovereign downgrades as early as 2030, increasing in intensity and across more countries over the century. We find strong evidence that stringent climate policy consistent with limiting warming to below 2 °C, honoring the Paris Climate Agreement and following representative concentration pathway (RCP) 2.6, could nearly eliminate the effect of climate change on ratings. In contrast, under higher emissions scenarios (i.e., RCP 8.5), 59 sovereigns experience climate-induced downgrades by 2030, with an average reduction of 0.68 notches, rising to 81 sovereigns facing an average downgrade of 2.18 notches by 2100. We calculate the effect of climate-induced sovereign downgrades on the cost of corporate and sovereign debt. Across the sample, climate change could increase the annual interest payments on sovereign debt by US$45–$67 billion under RCP 2.6, rising to US$135–$203 billion under RCP 8.5. The additional cost to corporations is US$10–$17 billion under RCP 2.6 and US$35–$61 billion under RCP 8.5.

Suggested Citation

  • Patrycja Klusak & Matthew Agarwala & Matt Burke & Moritz Kraemer & Kamiar Mohaddes, 2023. "Rising Temperatures, Falling Ratings: The Effect of Climate Change on Sovereign Creditworthiness," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 69(12), pages 7468-7491, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:69:y:2023:i:12:p:7468-7491
    DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.2023.4869
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    Cited by:

    1. Kamiar Mohaddes & Ryan N C Ng & M Hashem Pesaran & Mehdi Raissi & Jui-Chung Yang, 2023. "Climate change and economic activity: evidence from US states," Oxford Open Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 2, pages 28-46.
    2. Julia Anna Bingler, 2022. "Expect the worst, hope for the best: The valuation of climate risks and opportunities in sovereign bonds," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 22/371, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
    3. Agarwala, Matthew & Burke, Matt & Klusak, Patrycja & Mohaddes, Kamiar & Volz, Ulrich & Zenghelis, Dimitri, 2021. "Climate Change And Fiscal Sustainability: Risks And Opportunities," National Institute Economic Review, National Institute of Economic and Social Research, vol. 258, pages 28-46, November.
    4. John Beirne & Nuobu Renzhi & Ulrich Volz, 2021. "Bracing for the Typhoon: Climate change and sovereign risk in Southeast Asia," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(3), pages 537-551, May.
    5. Andrea Consiglio & Akis Kikas & Odysseas P. Michaelides & Stavros A. Zenios, 2024. "Auditing Public Debt Using Risk Management," Interfaces, INFORMS, vol. 54(2), pages 103-126, March.
    6. Stavros A. Zenios, 2022. "The risks from climate change to sovereign debt," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 172(3), pages 1-19, June.
    7. Karydas, Christos & Xepapadeas, Anastasios, 2022. "Climate change financial risks: Implications for asset pricing and interest rates," Journal of Financial Stability, Elsevier, vol. 63(C).
    8. Andrés Alonso-Robisco & José Manuel Carbó & José Manuel Marqués, 2023. "Machine Learning methods in climate finance: a systematic review," Working Papers 2310, Banco de España.
    9. Raphael Semet & Thierry Roncalli & Lauren Stagnol, 2021. "ESG and Sovereign Risk: What is Priced in by the Bond Market and Credit Rating Agencies?," Papers 2110.06617, arXiv.org.
    10. Matthew Agarwala & Matt Burke & Patrycja Klusak & Kamiar Mohaddes & Ulrich Volz & Dimitri Zenghelis, 2021. "Climate Change and Fiscal Responsibility: Risks and Opportunities," Working Papers 008, The Productivity Institute.
    11. Jorge M. Uribe, 2023. ""Fiscal crises and climate change"," IREA Working Papers 202303, University of Barcelona, Research Institute of Applied Economics, revised Feb 2023.
    12. Denitsa Angelova & Francesco Bosello & Andrea Bigano & Silvio Giove, 2021. "Sovereign rating methodologies, ESG and climate change risk: an overview," Working Papers 2021:15, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    sovereign credit rating; climate change; counterfactual analysis; climate-economy models; corporate debt; sovereign debt;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C33 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • C53 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric Modeling - - - Forecasting and Prediction Models; Simulation Methods
    • G10 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • G18 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • H63 - Public Economics - - National Budget, Deficit, and Debt - - - Debt; Debt Management; Sovereign Debt
    • O44 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Environment and Growth
    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
    • Q54 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Climate; Natural Disasters and their Management; Global Warming

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