Goldman Sachs sets 2030 carbon emissions reduction targets

·3-min read

By Matt Scuffham

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc said it would work with clients in three areas to reduce carbon emissions substantially by 2030, as it revealed new details about its approach to countering climate change in a report released on Thursday.

The bank said it would initially focus on oil and gas, power and auto manufacturing, aiming to reduce emissions in those high-emissions sectors by 2030. Starting with a baseline of 2019 levels, it said it would help oil and gas clients reduce emissions by 17%-22%, power by 48%-65% and autos by 49%-54%.

Goldman said it would consider the use of carbon credits when it can verify that they are of high quality to achieve those goals.

Other banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley have set similar targets.

The targets are a sign of how banks are ramping up pressure on clients to reduce emissions as the industry comes under increasing pressure globally to cut off financing for industries such as coal that harm the environment.

"As a financial institution, we believe the most meaningful role we can play in the global climate transition is to drive decarbonization in the real economy in partnership with our clients," Chief Executive David Solomon said in the report.

Campaigners said Goldman's targets were not enough.

"Achieving the net-zero target Goldman and other banks have committed to means stopping support for fossil fuel expansion immediately. Anything less is just an attempt at good PR,” said Sierra Club Fossil-Free Finance Campaign Manager Ben Cushing.

One of the top U.S. bank regulators said Thursday that banks should make assessing financial risks stemming from climate change an integral part of their work.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said it was soliciting feedback on draft principles for bank supervisors, with a specific eye on firms with over $100 billion in assets.

The draft laid out a sweeping vision for how banks should be integrating climate change risk into nearly every aspect of their business, and marks the most significant step to date by regulators under the Biden administration to push banks to consider climate risks.

Goldman said in March this year that it would align its financing activities to support a net zero target by 2050. Thursday's report set out an initial set of targets for 2030, "focused on sectors where we see an opportunity to proactively engage our clients, deploy capital, and invest in new commercial solutions."

The bank believes companies in those sectors will "need massive support through capital and strategic advice to deliver on net zero goals," it said.

Solomon said the bank's research showed that $56 trillion was needed in green infrastructure investments globally to reach a net zero economy by 2050.

Goldman Sachs had already been taking steps to bring its lending into line with a growing worldwide push to cut emissions. In October, it joined the United Nations-backed Net Zero Banking Alliance.

The bank's new efforts come as climate-focused investors are calling on the major U.S. banks to quickly scale back their financing of new fossil fuel development, saying current commitments to curb global emissions are not enough.

Earlier this week, Reuters reported that HSBC expected all its clients to have a plan in place to exit financing thermal coal by the end of 2023.

World leaders have stressed the need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The 2015 Paris Agreement commits countries to limit the global average temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to aim for 1.5 degrees Celsius.

(Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Additional reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Lisa Shumaker)

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