Berkleley, CA – Shareholder representative As You Sow filed resolutions asking five of the largest U.S. banks — Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Wells Fargo— to disclose climate transition plans for achieving their 2030 net zero-aligned greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.
The banking sector has a critical role to play in addressing the climate crisis and aligning financing activities with the Paris Agreement’s net zero by 2050 goal. By operationalizing and translating net-zero commitments into clearly disclosed and actionable strategies, each bank can assure investors and the public that they have a path forward to meet their 2030 goals.
These resolutions follow 2019 and 2020 resolutions, filed by As You Sow and a host of other shareholders, asking these same banks and Citicorp to measure, disclose, and set net-zero targets for their financed emissions. In response, each bank has shown leadership in determining how to measure their financed greenhouse gas emissions, beginning to disclose those emissions, and setting 2030 net zero-aligned greenhouse gas reduction targets for certain of their highest emitting sectors.
“It is critical that U.S. banks be clear with investors about how they intend to meet their 2030 goals,” said Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow. “While public policy, technology, green funding, and client progress all have a role to play in accomplishing these goals, banks must affirmatively acknowledge that every decision they make has climate implications. Owning that space and disclosing how they are working to deliver on their net-zero goals creates accountability and clarity on the path to net zero.”
All six banks As You Sow has filed resolutions with — three of which are the largest global lenders and underwriters of fossil fuels — have set 2030 intensity reduction targets for their highest-emitting portfolio sectors, including auto-manufacturing, energy, and power. Citibank and Wells Fargo have set absolute 2030 targets, while JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley have set intensity targets. Each of these six banks are members of the Net-Zero Banking Alliance, whose signatories have committed to aligning lending and investment portfolios with the Paris Agreement’s net zero by 2050 goal. Membership signals a clear willingness to meet global climate commitments.
“As assertations of greenwashing become more commonplace, it is increasingly important that banks articulate to investors how they will make good on their net-zero commitments,” said Fugere.
An effective transition plan creates bank accountability by describing the affirmative strategies, indicators, milestones, metrics, and timelines necessary to deliver on its decarbonization targets and ensure investors that the bank is fully accountable for the risks associated with its financing of high-carbon activities.
As You Sow has also sought action from the U.S. insurance industry, including The Hartford, Berkshire Hathaway, Chubb Limited, and Travelers Companies asking each to measure, disclose, and set net-zero targets for their underwriting and investing activities, in alignment with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5-degree goal. While catastrophic climate change losses are increasing for insurance companies, only The Hartford has taken responsibility for its contribution to climate change and set a net-zero goal.
There is a heightened interest from clients, investors, and concerned members of the public who want to see climate action from the financial sector and alignment of current actions with climate goals. Retail investor platform Tulipshare, Trillium Asset Management, Boston Common Asset Management, Harrington Investments, Green Century Capital Management, Sierra Club Foundation, and other organizations have filed resolutions seeking action from banks or insurance companies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
As You Sow will continue to act as a resource for shareholders seeking change from the banking sector and look forward to continued progress from the institutions whose actions are inextricably tied to global net-zero targets and future climate action.