Citigroup Inc. says it will support $100 billion in projects to curb greenhouse gas emissions, boost energy efficiency and help communities prepare for rising sea levels, extreme weather events and other effects of climate change. The New York-based lender announced Wednesday that it will lend, invest and facilitate such deals over the next 10 years.
"Citi has demonstrated its deep commitment to not only taking environmental consequences into account, but also finding innovative ways to finance projects that lead to sustainable growth," CEO Michael Corbat said in a statement. “Incorporating the principles of sustainability into everything we do improves our own operations, enhances our clients' work, and contributes to a better world."
Citi’s pledge comes as the United Nations aims to raise $100 billion per year in public and private climate financing for 2020 and beyond. The money would help poorer nations comply with emissions reduction targets under a global treaty, which nearly 200 nations are negotiating this year. Wealthy nations last year raised an initial $10 billion for a U.N.-run Green Climate Fund, but that will cover only a sliver of expenses related to fighting and adapting to climate change.
The Citi commitment could encourage other major banks to expand their climate-related investments. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. announced a $40 billion climate program in 2012, while Bank of America Corp. has pledged to support $50 billion in low-carbon initiatives.
“We need the largest financial players in the whole world to engage in the climate debate as an economic imperative,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, a sustainability nonprofit that helped Citigroup develop its strategy, Bloomberg News reported. “I think it’s big enough to make a difference in jump-starting certain parts of the renewable energy economy and moving green infrastructure forward.”
Citi says it will use its $100 billion climate fund to finance infrastructure projects “that increase access to clean water and manage waste, while also supporting green, affordable housing for clients, including in low- and moderate-income communities,” according to the company’s statement. The lender will also back “sustainable transportation” projects and help cities protect against climate extremes.
The bank has already backed such projects in recent years as part of a $50 billion funding goal set in 2007. Citi says it met the target three years early in 2013.