Citigroup To Spend $100 Billion Fighting Global Warming

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Michael Bastasch Contributor
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Citigroup is planning to spend $100 billion over the next 10 years on activities and programs to fight global warming. This, just a few years after receiving a $50 billion taxpayer bailout.

The financial institution’s $100 billion pledge builds on a 2003 initiative to spend $50 billion by 2013. Citigroup will continue to fund activities, including financing green energy, energy-efficiency programs, and pushing for carbon dioxide emissions reductions. Citigroup will also fund projects to improve infrastructure and make areas better prepared for global warming.

“Citi has demonstrated its deep commitment to not only taking environmental consequences into account, but also finding innovative ways to finance projects that lead to sustainable growth,” said Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat.

Citigroup was a major recipient of bailout funds under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which was launched under President George W. Bush to prevent major banks from going under during the 2008 financial crisis.

Fox News reported in 2011 that Citi got “$50 billion from the government’s TARP programs,” on top of “$73.6 billion from FDIC programs and $125.3 billion from the various Federal Reserve liquidity programs.”

There has been a large effort by the Obama administration and environmentalists to convince financial institutions to invest in green energy projects. The Obama administration has spent more than $32 billion in loan guarantees for wind, solar and alternative vehicle projects. These loan guarantees, however, have dried up since the $535 million failure of Solyndra.

“Climate change is expected to impact virtually every sector of the economy,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres– a non-profit that pushes investors to green their holdings. “The financial services industry has a big role to play in scaling up global clean energy investments, and we applaud Citi’s leadership as the company continues to innovate and expand its efforts.”

President Barack Obama has made tackling global warming a major priority during his second term in office. His 2016 budget proposal includes $48 billion in green energy tax credits over the next 10 years, which will no doubt be a boon financial institutions investing in green tech.

Obama has also pledged billions of dollars to build up India’s solar power capacity. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency said it will leverage $2 billion in loans for solar energy along with $1 billion in lending from the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation. The U.S. Export-Import Bank will also lend out $1 billion to subsidize India’s solar development.

But Citi isn’t just looking to fund green energy– it is also looking to green up its own operations. The company is looking to reduce its carbon footprint 35 percent by 2020, along with reducing its waste and water-use. Citi will also make sure that 33 percent of its real estate is LEED certified to meet green energy standards that make it eligible for federal, state and local tax credits.

“For more than 200 years, Citi’s mission has been to enable progress by facilitating economic growth and financing transformative projects,” Corbat said. “Incorporating the principles of sustainability into everything we do improves our own operations, enhances our clients’ work, and contributes to a better world.”

Citi isn’t the only company to announce plans for big spending on global warming. Apple recently announced it is spending $850 million to build a solar power plant in Monterey, Calif. to power the company’s facilities in the area.

Apple’s solar plant is expected to generate 130 megawatts of electricity– enough to power 50,000 homes. But CEO Tim Cook says the company’s not just doing this for profit, it’s doing it to save the planet.

“We’re doing this because it’s right to do,” Cook told investors earlier this month.

Apple’s solar plant will also be eligible for federal, state and local subsidies used to make green energy more economical than it would otherwise be.

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