It’s likely that Wall Street banks aren’t the types of companies that come to mind when you think about companies that care about climate change. However, many global banks are in fact big backers of finding ways to battle the dangerous shift in temperatures worldwide. And so, today, on Earth Day, we’d like to point to five banking organizations that are spending a good amount of time and money to support the health of Mother Earth.
Charlotte-based BofA has invested several billions of dollars in climate change activities. Which is why in recent years Bloomberg magazine has ranked the bank the second greenest on the planet, Banker magazine has named it the most innovative investment bank in climate change and sustainability, and Newsweek has ranked it the second greenest firm among large financial institutions. BofA is also the only U.S. bank, and one of only two banks worldwide, to have been named to the A-list of the CDP Climate Performance Leadership Index five years in a row (the list “reveals which companies around the world are doing the most to combat climate change”). One of BofA’s key climate change initiatives is a $50 billion commitment to advance lower-carbon economic solutions via lending, equipment finance, carbon finance, investment advice, and capital markets and advisory activities.
Thanks to its significant investments in wind energy, Citi was named Bloomberg’s greenest bank on the planet in 2013. More recently, the New York-based banking behemoth made headlines in February when it announced it would be doubling its investment in renewable energy, greenhouse gas reductions, and sustainable transportation to $100 billion. Previously, in 2007, it had set a goal to invest $50 billion over ten years (Citi had met the goal early). Reporting on the announcement, Fortune pointed out that Citi’s “investment in energy efficiency is even expanding to [its] own New York City headquarters. The company said it will be LEED certified—which proves that a building has met ‘green’ standards—for its downtown Greenwich Street building once a renovation project there is complete.” (Pictured above is Citi’s LEED certified data center in Frankfurt).
New York’s Goldman Sachs was twice named to the A-list of the CDP Climate Performance Leadership Index. It was also the top-ranked U.S. bank in Bloomberg’s 2014 Greenest Banks on the Planet ranking. Indeed, Goldman is a significant supporter of climate change-related investments. Along with its commitment to reducing its own carbon emissions to zero by 2020, it has helped raise $19 billion for clean technology and renewable energy businesses during the past five years, as well as invested $3 billion in clean energy and “environmentally beneficial” projects. In addition, it ranked No. 2 in Vault’s latest ranking of the best banking employers for green initiatives.
Toronto-based TD is another bank that has twice been named to the A-list of the CDP Climate Performance Leadership Index (only five North American banks have appeared at least twice on the A-list). TD was also the first North American bank to become carbon-neutral (in 2010). And in Florida, in 2011, it opened the first net-zero bank branch—which means the branch creates as much energy as it uses. In addition, according to a recent statement by TD’s real estate green strategy officer, about 80 percent of all new TD branches will use solar power in their design.
A three time A-lister on the CDP Climate Performance Leadership Index, San Francisco-based Wells Fargo has committed to investing $30 billion in renewable energy, energy efficiency, greener buildings, conservation, water management, sustainable transportation, resource-efficient products, and sustainable foods by 2020. As of 2013 (the date of the bank’s most recent status report), among Wells Fargo’s accomplishments was the reduction of more than 186,000 tons of CO2—the equivalent of preventing the consumption of 393,000 barrels of oil.