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Moody’s sounds alarm over SA banks’ climate change exposure through extensive mining lending

Two workers in an underground mine.

Two workers in an underground mine.

African banks are exposed to environmental risks that may threaten their credit quality and profitability as climate change makes shocks more frequent and severe, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

Moody’s estimates that the 49 banks it rates across 14 African countries have extended almost $218 billion in credit to environmentally sensitive sectors, an amount equivalent to nearly 29% of their total loans.

Threats for the continent’s banks are exacerbated by their outsized holdings of sovereign bonds, particularly for Angolan and Nigerian lenders, Moody’s analysts including Malika Takhtayeva and Peter Mushangwe said in a report on Tuesday.

Most African sovereigns face substantial risk from rising temperatures, water scarcity and carbon transition, they said.

Here are other comments from Moody’s:

  • “We expect environmental factors will lead to a deterioration of the banks’ credit quality and profitability in the long term if banks do not take measures to prudently manage climate-related and environmental risks.”
  • Moody’s findings indicate many of Africa’s largest industries, such as oil and gas, mining and transport face high environmental threats, given their high exposure to carbon transition or physical climate risk.
  • Banks in Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Africa have engaged in extensive lending to the mining industry; banks in Uganda are heavily exposed to farming and fishing, making them vulnerable to droughts and other consequences of climate change.

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