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This Earth Day, Sharing Our Path to Sustainable Progress

April 22, 2023
Val Smith, Chief Sustainability Officer, Citi

Today, as we approach the 53rd Earth Day, I’m reflecting on how the level of commitment to sustainability across our company and the world has never been higher, but also on the significant challenges ahead. In these moments, we take stock and celebrate how far the world has come in elevating the importance of sustainability across every facet of society, and then redouble our commitment.  

At Citi, we recognize that addressing climate change and decarbonizing our global economy is an all-hands-on-deck challenge as well as unprecedented economic opportunity.

The energy transition will not be linear. While we’ve seen incredible progress in deploying wind and solar technology, we still need to couple this with upgrades to our electric grids, long-term battery storage, green hydrogen, carbon capture technologies and more. As technology advances and scales up, some shifts will be adopted quickly, and others will take time and face obstacles. Regardless of the path, scientists say we have a narrow window of opportunity to avert the worst impacts of climate change by acting now, in this decade.

This energy transition is uniquely global, but it is important to remember that the transition is also happening on the ground in local communities. It affects not only the type of energy we use, but also livelihoods, the health of our communities, and access to opportunities.  As we decarbonize our energy system, there are communities around the world that are adapting, and there are some that still lack reliable access to energy. 

Our commitment to being a part of the communities we serve means we are also thinking about how we realize positive impact in the communities where these changes are taking place and enable people around the world to benefit from the energy transition. Meeting development needs is paramount as we transition. As we build a low-carbon economy, we will need to ensure that low- and moderate-income communities, which in many instances are the most devastated by climate impacts, have a role in the opportunities created by the transition and are able to continue developing economically.

At Citi, sustainability is an important part of our business development decisions and meeting our sustainability goals means meeting business goals as well. In March, we published our fourth Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) Report. We continue to share updates transparently on our progress toward our Net Zero by 2050 commitment, including Net Zero Operations by 2030. This year, we added interim emission reduction targets for 2030 for the Auto Manufacturing, Commercial Real Estate, Steel and Thermal Coal Mining sectors, in addition to those for our Energy and Power lending portfolios. Our banking teams are incorporating these goals in conversations with our clients, and into transactions including green bonds, sustainability-linked loans and innovations like supporting the World Bank in issuing the first emission-reduction linked bond this year.  

This includes facilitating climate solutions from renewable energy and clean technology to water conservation and sustainable transportation.  We’re also increasingly seeing deals where environmental and social benefits are intertwined.

For Citi employees around the world that are participating in our annual Earth Day Challenge this year, we applaud your efforts in thinking about how our actions today can make for a more sustainable tomorrow. This year, employees involved in our Earth Day Challenge have already completed more than 8,000 individual tasks so far, aimed at raising our awareness and making sustainable choices in our daily lives. While reorienting our business to access climate and sustainability opportunities is one of our best options to make an impact on these global systemic challenges, we have a dual opportunity to take concrete actions in our own lives, like limiting our use of single-use plastics, reducing the amount of meat in our diet, and considering an electric vehicle for our next car purchase.

As the world’s most global bank, we are interconnected with many carbon-intensive sectors that continue to be a critical part of our global economy. We recognize that the long-term health of our global economy depends on environmental stability and achieving economic and social progress.  We are committed to working alongside our clients on their journeys, engaging them on their transition plans, navigating challenges and finding new opportunities.

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