Citi’s $100 billion commitment to finance sustainable growth

Earlier this week, Citigroup committed to lend, invest, and facilitate $100 billion within the next ten years to finance activities focused on addressing climate change, promoting clean energy, and encouraging sustainability.  This builds on Citi’s 2007 goal of spending $50 billion on climate friendly projects in ten years after the company met its goal three years early in 2013.

It is encouraging to see that one of the world’s largest financial institutions is focused on financing sustainable growth. Citi’s commitment shows that investing in sustainability and clean energy is smart business. In his remarks announcing the $100 billion initiative, Citi CEO Michael Corbat noted that in a recent McKinsey survey, “nearly half of CEOs cited sustainability among their top three strategic priorities, with 13 percent noting it as their top priority.” Corbat explained that Citi’s “clients are focused on this and customers are demanding it.”

Citi’s approach focuses on financing projects that address environmental challenges, helping clients address environmental and social risk, and improving the impact of its own facilities and supply chain. It is significant that although the company’s conversation is still largely focused on the environment, it has specifically broadened the scope to included sustainability and social risk. It is also significant that the bank has doubled the amount of its commitment. Let’s hope that by the time Citi next announces the direction of funds towards sustainability, the words “human rights” make it into the press release.

Mattie Bekink leads the Center's work on ethical investing.