Treasury Climate Counselor Position Is Essential, But Appointee’s Lack of Financial Regulatory Experience Is Disappointing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the appointment of John Morton as Climate Counselor at the Department. In March, Public Citizen and Americans for Financial Reform issued a blueprint for using financial regulatory tools in response to the climate crisis: Climate Roadmap for U.S. Financial Regulation. Public Citizen and Americans for Financial Reform issued the following statement:

“We appreciate that the Treasury has created and filled the Climate Counselor position, recognizing the crucial role of finance and economic policy in addressing the climate crisis and embracing a whole of government approach.

“It is disappointing, however, that the Treasury has appointed someone who lacks experience with financial regulation or a history of using regulatory tools to drive change. In February, more than 145 organizations wrote to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, calling for the appointment of a climate czar with experience at the Federal Reserve and the Treasury to ensure an effective climate agenda.

“Mr. Morton—and Treasury leadership broadly—must commit to coordinating and driving regulatory action with the urgency the climate crisis requires and must focus on the interrelated goals of achieving sustainability and advancing racial and economic justice. Business as usual in finance, or in financial regulation, will not accomplish this goal.

“Mr. Morton should seek input and guidance on robust regulatory action from those groups most affected by the climate crisis and their allies, not Wall Street firms seeking to profit from the transition or to avoid addressing the roots of the problem. It is also critical that the Climate Hub at the Treasury be well-resourced, staffed and supported so that it can chart an independent course in the face of resistance from those seeking to delay real solutions to protect their own profits. This staffing must include experts on financial regulation and the role of financial regulators regarding the climate crisis.”