Bank to spend $50bn to tackle climate change

America's biggest bank, Citigroup, has announced it will spend $50bn over the next ten years to reduce its own carbon emissions and encourage the development of clean technologies.

The New York based banking group is already putting $10bn into this area and plans to increase its spending fivefold through a mixture of investment and financing of the commercialisation of alternative energy and other carbon-reducing technologies.

“The comprehensive program we are announcing today is not a wish-list, but a realistic, achievable plan that serves a critical global need and responds to an emerging investment opportunity,” said Charles Prince, chairman and CEO of Citigroup.

“As a global leader in financial services, we recognize our responsibility to confront climate change and the importance of identifying and helping implement new solutions for our clients and our businesses. We will continue to partner with environmental experts and clients as we address this issue.”

Citi is an established voice on environmental issues within the financial sector, having been a key player in the development of the Equator Principles which established best practices for assessing and mitigating social and environmental risks in project finance.

The group has also called for the development of global and US frameworks to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, drive innovation and opportunity, bring clarity and certainty to the markets and achieve a level playing field.

The announcement of its planned investment in environmental projects is the latest sign that, despite a lack of leadership from Washington, American companies are using their corporate clout to attempt to reduce the impact of climate change.

$10bn will be spent on reducing the company’s own carbon footprint, while the majority of the remainder ($31bn) will go on supporting the growth and development of clean technologies through investment and financing.

The final $9bn will be spent on specific projects and environmentally sound financial services.

“This new initiative is an excellent complement to Citi’s call for stronger, market-based climate policy in the United States and abroad,” said Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

“Citi understands how profoundly climate change will transform the economy, and they are pioneering opportunities for the capital markets to meet the climate challenge.”

Sam Bond

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