2021-03-04 BankTrack, Rainforest Action Network & Sierra Club
RAN: Laurel Sutherlin
Sierra Club: Liz Doherty
BankTrack: Maaike Beenes
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On 4 March, Goldman Sachs announced a new commitment to align its financing activities with a pathway to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and committed to set interim climate targets by the end of this year. Goldman Sachs also indicated it would begin measuring and disclosing its financed emissions, though the announcement lacked further details on the bank’s methodology for doing so and its near-term steps for cutting emissions.
Today’s announcement makes Goldman Sachs the fourth major U.S. bank — following Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, and Citi — to make an explicit commitment to achieve net zero financed emissions by 2050. JPMorgan Chase also previously pledged to align its financing with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Notably, this means that Wells Fargo is now the only major U.S. bank that has not made a similar commitment.
Last year, a coalition of more than 60 climate and human rights organisations around the world issued a set of Principles for Paris-Aligned Financial Institutions that details what true climate leadership from banks and other financial institutions would look like to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
In response, Sierra Club financial advocacy campaign manager Ben Cushing released the following statement:
“Commitments to achieve net zero financed emissions by 2050 have become the new minimum standard for climate action on Wall Street. While it’s good to see Goldman Sachs headed in the right direction, the firm must recognize that mitigating its role in the climate crisis and aligning with the goals of the Paris Agreement demands stronger immediate action. Goldman Sachs and other banks should take steps now to meet these goals by not financing further fossil fuel expansion and setting a timeline for phasing out fossil fuel financing overall.”
Jason Opeña Disterhoft, Senior Climate and Energy Campaigner with Rainforest Action Network, said:
“Goldman Sachs becomes the latest major U.S. bank to admit to its responsibility to zero out emissions by midcentury and reinforce a long-term sell-by date for the fossil fuel industry. Goldman’s interim targets must match the UN IPCC’s finding that global emissions must be halved by 2030 to keep warming under 1.5°C. These targets must also include commitments to stop supporting expansion of fossil fuels.
“With skepticism about the ‘net’ in ‘net zero’ growing, Goldman’s participation in the Taskforce on Scaling Voluntary Carbon Markets means that it will face particular scrutiny to disavow offset schemes like huge tree plantations on Indigenous lands that violate rights and simply serve as excuses to continue fossil fuel business as usual.
“Wells Fargo is now in the spotlight as the major U.S. bank with by far the worst fossil fuel policies, as well as lacking any overall long-term commitment.”
Maaike Beenes, climate campaigner at BankTrack, said: "Goldman Sachs' announcement is a first small step for the bank. Having poured US$ 83,754 million into fossil fuel companies between 2016 and 2019, it is crucial that the actual implementation of their commitment is taken seriously and that they will start phasing out financing for fossil fuels immediately."