Driving Sustainable Progress: Citi’s Strategy

  • 11 December 2015
ICC sustainable cities

A global climate agreement is within reach as COP21 climate talks draw to a conclusion at the end of two weeks. But in this blog for ICC, Valerie Smith, Director and Head of Corporate Sustainability at Citi discusses how her company is already taking climate action.

Valerie Smith
Valerie Smith

During the Paris Climate Conference, we have witnessed the strongest push yet for coordinated action to tackle climate change. At Citi, we are committed to playing a leading role in the coalition of governments, businesses and NGOs that is driving meaningful progress in the climate fight. As a global financial institution, Citi has a unique responsibility – and opportunity – to help guide the global economy onto a more sustainable footing. Throughout our nearly 20 years of sustainability-focused work, we’ve sought to leverage our financial expertise and global reach to do just that.

In 2015 we launched our five-year Sustainable Progress strategy, which guides us in our plan to accelerate economic, environmental and social benefits at scale. The strategy is organized under three primary pillars: environmental finance; environmental and social risk management; and operations and supply chain, with engagement and transparency being a vital component of all three.

The strategy houses our landmark US$100 Billion environmental finance goal, a target to lend, invest and facilitate US$100 billion over 10 years towards activities that reduce the impacts of climate change and create environmental solutions that benefit people and communities. As part of the goal, Citi works to identify environmentally positive business opportunities in partnership with our clients. For example, we support our clients’ efforts to develop projects, technologies and services that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, such as our recent financing for the Shannon Wind Project in Clay County, Texas, which included tax equity, construction financing and a power hedge. This 204 MW wind farm will supply energy to Facebook’s newest data centre, which will run entirely on renewable energy.

Citi also recognizes the need for new, scalable solutions to finance energy efficiency. Toward this end, we are a leading collaborator on the Warehouse for Energy Efficiency Loans (WHEEL), a US public-private financing platform that brings lower cost capital to residential energy efficiency loan programmes. Serving as the capital markets partner to warehouse and securitize loans, Citi is working with Renew Financial (the WHEEL Administrator), state and local governments such as the State of Pennsylvania, the Department of Energy and various nonprofits to facilitate continued growth of this market-making platform.

Through environmental and social risk management (ESRM), we have committed to conduct environmental and social portfolio reviews of high-risk sectors while continuing to ensure that client transactions meet our comprehensive ESRM Policy. As a result of this assessment process, we recently adopted a more stringent coal mining policy that commits us to reduce our credit exposure to the coal mining industry globally.

For our own operations, we continue the concerted effort to reduce Citi’s global footprint across our nearly 12,000 facilities worldwide. Citi has adopted ambitious, climate science-based goals. Our operational goals include a 35% absolute reduction in GHG emissions by 2020 and an 80% reduction by 2050. So far, we have reduced our GHG emissions by more than 25% since 2005.

Citi’s ability to successfully drive sustainable progress is not simply a reflection of internal resolve – it is, and will continue to be, a result of dynamic and innovative partnerships with clients, investors, employees and other stakeholders. This is why the Paris conference and events such as the ICC COP21 Business and Industry (BINGO) Day are so meaningful. Businesses like Citi have an incredible opportunity to help advance a sustainable future, but we cannot do it alone. By joining in Paris, we hope to build upon our momentum going forward, in partnership with like-minded organizations.