Banking

Citigroup says dropping clients is ‘last resort’ in climate push

Citigroup set new targets to reduce the carbon emissions it helps to finance, and said it would only drop clients if all else failed in the bank’s push to curb its impact on climate change.

“Our intention is to work with all our clients, including our fossil-fuel clients, to develop credible plans and transition to net zero together,” Chief Executive Jane Fraser said. “We will continue to assess our client relationships — a regular part of how we manage our business — and prioritize partnering on transition strategies before turning to client exits as a last resort.”

One goal is to reduce the carbon emissions it finances in the energy sector by 29% over the next eight years, according to a report the New York-based lender released Wednesday. Citigroup will also seek to cut the emissions intensity of the portfolio of loans it makes to the power sector by 63%.

Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser.

Rodrigo Capote/Bloomberg

The commitments will put Citigroup on track to achieve its goal of net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions in its financing activities by 2050, the company said. Fraser set that target on her first day as CEO last year. Citigroup has long been one of the top banks for fossil-fuel companies, though the company has also vowed to finance $1 trillion in sustainable activities in coming years.

As part of the net-zero plan, Fraser said Citigroup will encourage clients to pursue the responsible retirement of carbon-intensive assets rather than helping them divest. The company is also keeping an eye on how its push will impact developing countries, where there may be limited access to energy resources, she said.

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“We will strive to meet the current needs of developing countries without causing negative social impacts or exacerbating existing inequalities, so that we can help these markets prioritize the transition to net zero while balancing both environmental and social needs,” Fraser said in a letter accompanying the report.

Citigroup has also vowed to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in its own operations by 2030. As part of those efforts, the bank said it will seek to reduce the waste it produces in 7,000 facilities around the world by 50% by 2025. The company will also seek to reduce the amount of water consumption in its facilities by 30% during that time.

“The existential threat posed by climate change will be with us for generations, but we know that it is this generation’s time to act,” Fraser said. “We will act with urgency.”


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