Citigroup Inc, a company we continue to work extensively with on developing environmental standards for its funding policies, is lagging behind. Way behind.
Some of you may have read the article in the WSJ this morning about the laggardly shuffle Citigroup seems to be doing around the issue of climate change. Specifically, the massive coal fired-power plant project of Dallas-based utility TXU, which continues to draw attention to itself as one of the most questionable energy projects since Three Gorges Dam was proposed in China. At a time when global warming threatens our natural world why would bank actively endorse and arrange funding for a project that will spew out as much CO2 and mercury as entire countries?
The TXU project, estimated at over $10 billion, will spit out 78 million tons of carbon annually. Along with Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley, Citigroup is helping to arrange the financing of the project. Fittingly, this Valentine’s Day we will be meeting with Citigroup to discuss their stance on TXU and how they can develop and implement a modern climate policy.
Central in the coming discussion likely will be what responsibility, if any, Citigroup has to only do business with clients that embrace eco-friendly ways. Thus far, Citigroup has imposed environmentally beneficial policies on itself, but refused to jettison big polluters or dictate specifically what its energy-producing clients must do beyond what the law and financial prudence require.
It’s pathetic that our country’s most powerful investment companies are bragging about having 3% of their total energy come from clean sources. They have every possible resource at their disposal (power and wealth) to actually change the way this country handles energy consumption and we’re forced to listen to their grand accomplishments of cutting their “greenhouse gas emissions by 10% by 2011.” Is that really a company that takes its future seriously? Is that really a company that takes OUR future seriously?
Just because they worked on passing a policy with us back in 2004 doesn’t mean that this work is done. Both of us have to continue stepping it up and making changes to make the policy stronger, more robust. The last few years Citigroup has been lagging. In 2006 they served as the largest arranger of corporate financing for the power, oil and natural gas industries, a $582 billion dollar market share.
They’ll say that there is money in these markets, that the bottom line is too important and if tampered with could devastate the company. Thats a false choice. It assumes that there is no profit to be had in sustainable energy companies, that there is no future in anything but coal, oil and gas. This is not how Americans reached the moon in 7 years or held back the threat of fascism in our world.
Maybe, our country’s financial leaders should take a little hint from the likes of this man. At least he’s helping to fund a solution.
We’ve got an online petition running right that over 3,200 of you have signed so far. Our goal is to get more than 4,000 signatures before the February 21st court date on whether or not grant permits for the planned power plants.