Ceres Applauds the OCC’s Appointment of Dr. Nina Chen as Chief Climate Risk Officer

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has taken an important step addressing the systemic financial risks of the climate crisis with the appointment of Dr. Yue (Nina) Chen as Chief Climate Risk Officer, Ceres said in a statement.  

Dr. Chen previously served as the Executive Deputy Superintendent of the Climate Division at the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS).  

“Dr. Chen brings years of experience in the area of climate-related financial risk, and we commend the OCC for filling this critical position with a dedicated public servant,” said Steven Rothstein, Managing Director of the Ceres Accelerator for Sustainable Capital Markets at Ceres. “Her appointment will help protect our banking system from the impacts of the climate crisis.”  

“It is urgent that agencies establish well-resourced, senior staff on climate risk to meet the scale of the challenge and deliver on FSOC’s commitments. We encourage other regulators to look to the OCC’s leadership in fulfilling their mandate to protect the safety and soundness of our banks and the financial system,” added Rothstein. 

U.S. banks are vulnerable to climate-related physical and transition risks, and it is imperative that financial regulators take steps to protect our financial institutions from these growing risks. In June 2022, the Ceres Accelerator released a scorecard assessing nine federal agencies that are members of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), on their actions to address climate-related financial risks. This analysis was a follow-up to its first iteration in April 2021 covering similar agencies but identifying new criteria for assessment. 

The scorecard found that six of the nine federal agencies had successfully appointed senior staff focused on climate change, while the remaining three have hiring processes underway. This shows significant progress from April 2021 when only four of the ten agencies had taken steps to create these positions.  

The OCC created the role of Chief Climate Risk Officer in July 2021, which has been held by Darrin Benhart for about a year and Jonathan Fink as interim since March. In this role, Dr. Chen will lead the agency’s Office of Climate Risk. 

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