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Citigroup pledges $50 billion to curb emissions

Citigroup Inc. said Tuesday it plans to commit $50 billion to mitigating climate change over the next decade, the largest such commitment to date from Wall Street.
/ Source: msnbc.com staff and news service reports

Citigroup Inc. said Tuesday it plans to commit $50 billion to mitigating climate change over the next decade, the largest such commitment to date from Wall Street.

The largest U.S. bank said the amount includes nearly $10 billion in activities the bank has already undertaken. Citigroup plans as well to increase to $10 billion from about $1 billion its commitment to reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent by 2011.

Citigroup's program comes as U.S. companies look for ways to benefit from growing demand for alternative energies, and reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Citigroup itself said it plans to "invest in and finance over $31 billion in clean energy and alternative technology over the next ten years."

In a statement, Citigroup Chief Executive Charles Prince said the program "is not a wish list, but a realistic, achievable plan that services a critical global need and responds to an emerging investment opportunity."

An environmental group that often faces off against large companies said the announcement left a mixed message.

"$50 billion to fight climate change is great, but it’s a little like Citi is using its left hand to clean up a mess made by the right one," Michael Brune, head of the Rainforest Action Network, said in a statement. "We’re pleased with this announcement, but praise for Citi must be tempered by the understanding that this bank is continuing to fund some of the worst, most CO2-intensive projects in the world."

RAN cited figures showing that Citigroup was the top financier last year for the energy industry, which relies on carbon-emitting fossil fuels.

"They need to do more than just fund clean energy, they also need to stop financing dirty energy," RAN staffer Rebecca Tarbotton said of corporate financiers in general. "Instead of funding the 150 new coal-fired power plants currently on the books in the U.S., banks should stop financing the most carbon intensive and climate-changing industries and start investing in a clean energy future."

Prince vowed to do just that. "We recognize our responsibility to confront climate change and the importance of identifying and helping implement new solutions for our clients and our businesses," he said. "We will continue to partner with environmental experts and clients as we address this issue."

Citigroup's announcement follows one in March by Bank of America Corp. The second-largest U.S. bank said it would commit $20 billion over 10 years to support growth in environmentally friendly activities and reduce global warming.

Bank of America is building office towers in its Charlotte, N.C., hometown and just off New York's Times Square, that are designed to be environmentally efficient.