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

Author

Listed:
  • Patrycja Klusak

    (Bennett Institute for Public Policy, University of Cambridge)

  • Matthew Agarwala

    (Bennett Institute for Public Policy, University of Cambridge)

  • Matt Burke

    (Bennett Institute for Public Policy, University of Cambridge)

  • Moritz Kraemer

    (Centre for Sustainable Finance, SOAS, UK)

  • Kamiar Mohaddes

    (EPRG, CJBS, Univeristy of Cambridge)

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 108 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 2oC, honouring the Paris Climate Agreement, and following RCP 2.6 could nearly eliminate the effect of climate change on ratings. In contrast, under higher emissions scenarios (i.e., RCP 8.5), 63 sovereigns experience climate-induced downgrades by 2030, with an average reduction of 1.02 notches, rising to 80 sovereigns facing an average downgrade of 2.48 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$ 22-33 billion under RCP 2.6, rising to US$ 137-205 billion under RCP 8.5. The additional cost to corporates is US$ 7.2-12.6 billion under RCP 2.6, and US$ 35.8-62.6 billion under RCP 8.5.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Patrycja Klusak & Matthew Agarwala & Matt Burke & Moritz Kraemer & Kamiar Mohaddes, 2021. "Rising Temperatures, Falling Ratings: The Effect of Climate Change on Sovereign Creditworthiness," Working Papers EPRG2110, Energy Policy Research Group, Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:enp:wpaper:eprg2110
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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; climateeconomy 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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