Overall, Citi has very detailed and well-designed plans to promote sustainability, however, they are still one of the leaders in producing fossil fuels. Therefore, they are trying to improve their sustainability practices but I wonder if their motives are genuine. The CEO of Citi, Jane Fraser explains, “Our ESG agenda cannot just be a separate layer that sits above what we do day to day. It is embedded in what we do and creates concrete examples of the empathy I see in our firm every day as we work to serve our clients, customers, and communities”. While I believe that Citi cares about the environment and wants to help, I believe that since they are known for unsustainable practices they want to protect its image. Therefore, Citi is throwing money and resources toward sustainability to compensate for its bad reputation with sustainability. Further, on their website, they refer to sustainability as a trend which in my opinion, devalues their sustainability initiatives and portrays the company's intent as disingenuine.
Citi’s mission is to be the leading financial service partner to their clients to help them achieve their goals of economic growth and progress. Citi Banks’ core activities include safeguarding assets, lending money, making payments, and accessing the capital markets on behalf of their clients. They are a global bank and institution that connects millions of people across hundreds of countries and cities.
They allow their clients to open savings and checking accounts. Therefore, they help people with their everyday transactions as well as with big purchases such as buying a home. Additionally, Citi helps people invest by advising them on which securities to buy. Citi also works with companies to aid with their daily operations and governments to support sustainable infrastructure and aims to earn the public’s trust by adhering to the highest ethical standards. Therefore, they work in the interest of their clients, create economic value, and act responsibly. They strive to create positive financial and social impact in the communities that they serve as a global bank.
Citi has a 31-page document, published in March 2022, called Environmental and Social Policy Framework that provides an extremely detailed and extensive explanation of Citi’s commitments and key internal environmental and social policies, programs and initiatives globally. It outlines their Sustainable Progress Strategy which includes a page on each, low-carbon transition, climate risk, and sustainable operations. Additionally, it outlines their commitments including, principles, standards and frameworks, climate change, net zero, sustainable finance, and human rights. Also, environmental and social risk management is listed which includes policy implementation, policy prohibitions, areas of high caution, and sector standards. Next, their supply chain is explained, demonstrating transparency in their operations. Then engagement, transparency, and reporting are laid out including stakeholder engagement, employee engagement, and reporting.
They recognize that there is a need for urgent action to protect our planet. They realize that the financial sector must address this crisis by supporting the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy that balances the environmental, social, and economic needs of society. Further, Citi acknowledges that they are one of the largest financiers of carbon-intensive sectors such as oil & gas, power, and industrials and they know it will be hard to align with the Paris Agreement. However, they have a sustainable progress strategy which includes a commitment to addressing climate change through a transition to a low-carbon economy and overall sustainable operations. They are accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy through their $500 billion environmental finance goal. They are measuring, managing, and reducing the climate risk and impact of their client portfolio. Lastly, they are reducing the environmental footprint of their facilities and strengthening their sustainability culture.
Citi wants to finance and facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy. They have set a $500 billion environmental finance goal, as a part of their $1 trillion commitment to sustainable finance. They have recently completed the $100 Billion environmental finance goal. Citi strives to continue developing innovative financing structures that promote their low-carbon transition as they understand the need to transform all sectors of the economy to meet the challenges of climate change.
They are also committed to managing climate risks. They are implementing the recommendations of the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on climate-related financial disclosures and building their environmental and social risk management policy. Further, they will measure the climate impact of their portfolios and their potential alignment with 1.5 and 2 degree Celsius warming scenarios. Citi approaches analyzing and reducing climate risk associated with their clients in areas including, policy development, portfolio analysis and measurement, and engagement.
Citi is committed to reducing the environmental footprint of its facilities. Currently, they are tracking their environmental impacts through a centralized environmental management system and are reporting annually on global energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, water use, waste-to-landfill, and green building initiatives. So far, their efforts have been able to reduce their environmental impacts, cut costs, enhance work environments and productivity, and support clients. Citi created operational footprint goals which align with their scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emission reduction target which was developed to be consistent with the level of decarbonization required to keep the global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius.
They have published their initial net zero by 2050 plan which includes 2030 emission targets. Their net-zero framework is laid out in five steps including calculating emissions, creating a transition pathway, setting targets, implementing a strategy, and external engagement. Citi has been building its sustainability track record for over two decades by working to address the current climate crisis. They have created frameworks to guide the financial sector in sustainability and pushed to help finance the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Valerie Smith, Citi’s chief sustainability officer, oversees Citi’s Sustainability & ESG team and their global sustainability commitments and initiatives. She serves as an advisor on sustainable finance, climate change, stakeholder engagement, human rights, ESG integration, and sustainability trends. Unlike many other banks I have researched, Smith has a background in sustainability as she graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in environmental science and then went on to get her MBA. Before working at Citi already had a lot of experience working in the field of sustainability. Therefore, I believe that Smith is very qualified and cares deeply about sustainability.