FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 16, 2021
Contact: Jackie Fielder, [email protected]
Stop the Money Pipeline coalition members respond to Goldman’s new climate targets
NEW YORK — Today Goldman Sachs launched an updated climate report with targets that sidestep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and opt for reductions in carbon intensity. Despite today’s commitment and a commitment to net zero, the fact remains that Goldman Sachs has provided $100 billion in financing for the fossil fuel industry from 2016 to 2020. Their top five fossil fuel clients in 2020 were BP, Pacific Gas & Electric, EcoPetrol, Petrobras, and Cheniere Energy, according to the Banking on Climate Chaos 2021 report from Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Reclaim Finance, and the Sierra Club. Goldman’s new policy is also well-short of what some other banks are doing to address the climate crisis.
Banks walking the talk
Two banks in particular–Amalgamated Bank and French public bank La Banque Postale–have set the standard for bank climate policies in 2021. On October 14, La Banque Postale ($60 billion USD in assets) committed to stop providing services to the oil and gas sectors by 2030. On October 25, Amalgamated Bank ($6.6 billion USD in assets) became the first US bank to set full portfolio targets under the guidelines of the UN Net Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA), all without relying on offsets.
Net Zero Loopholes
This policy does nothing to address a reduction in absolute greenhouse gas emissions. Of particular concern to climate activists and advocates has been the financial sector’s universal embrace of net zero. At this point, all six major US banks are a part of the NZBA, however they have collectively poured more than $1.1 trillion into the fossil fuel industry since the Paris Climate Agreement was adopted in 2015. Moreover, net zero opens the door to carbon offsets that often require displacement and perpetuates colonization and human rights abuses especially upon Indigenous people in the Global South; carbon capture and sequestration; geoengineering; and other technological solutions that are unproven to work safely at scale.
As it is continuing to fund the expansion of the fossil fuel industry, Goldman Sachs may not be clear on its interpretation of net zero but the science is: There is no room in the global 1.5°C carbon budget for the emissions from any new fossil fuel infrastructure. This was affirmed by the International Energy Association in May 2021. The United Nations Production Gap report also says: “global fossil fuel production must start declining immediately and steeply to be consistent with limiting long-term warming to 1.5°C.” Yet fossil fuel financing from the world’s 60 biggest banks in 2020 was higher than in 2016, the year after the Paris Agreement was adopted.
Member organizations of the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition released the following statements in reaction to the news:
“Goldman Sachs has the same problem as many of its peers of mistaking carbon intensity targets for an acceptable substitute for a meaningful emissions reduction plan,” said Sierra Club Fossil-Free Finance Campaign Manager Ben Cushing. “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.”
“Intensity-only targets are fully compatible with increases in absolute emissions and expansion of fossil fuels,” said Jason Opeña Disterhoft, senior campaigner at Rainforest Action Network. “They certainly don’t guarantee that Goldman will deliver its fair share of emissions reductions by 2030, which the bank is committed to as a member of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. The targets’ reliance on offsets also perpetuates fossil fuel business-as-usual and threatens the rights of communities impacted by offset schemes. Goldman Sachs, like all major fossil banks, has to immediately stop financing expansion of fossil fuels and set absolute emissions targets aligned with 1.5°C. If they don’t, investors and regulators should consider their net zero commitments to be greenwash.”
“Net-zero will not achieve the very real emissions targets that are necessary for keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees. Net-zero policies of Goldman Sachs and other financial institutions allow for continued fossil fuel expansion that the IPCC and IEA have clearly stated must stop in order to address the escalating climate crisis,” said Osprey Orielle Lake, Executive Director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN). “Financial institutions need to end all financing of fossil fuels, and not further carbon offset schemes that endanger the rights of frontline communities. Instead, it is time to invest in a regenerative and just transition.”
“We see clearly through the smokescreen Goldman Sachs is perpetuating with their supposed climate policy changes,” said Earth Action Director Mary Gutierrez. “We aren’t interested in greenwashing or perceived meaningful action. We are demanding action now beginning with no more fossil fuel funding!”
“Goldman Sachs cannot be a leader in sustainable finance without committing to absolute zero emissions targets and ending financing for fossil fuel expansion. Carbon-intensity and net zero targets are greenwashing and an excuse to continue fossil fuel financing into the future,” said Zanagee Artis, Executive Director of Zero Hour
“Goldman Sachs’ announcement is a lot of business and climate buzz words that boil down to doing more of the same with no accountability. Young people are done putting up with this empty language. The youth climate movement has made it clear to megabank CEOs like David Solomon that acceptable climate policy in 2021 MUST center on ending funding for fossil fuels. If Goldman Sachs wants to ‘drive decarbonization’, then try our ‘innovative solution’ – stop financing fossil fuels and pay climate reparations.” said Alyssa Lee, Campaign Strategy Coordinator with Future Coalition and the Youth Climate Finance Alliance
The Stop the Money Pipeline coalition is a coalition of nearly 200 organizations working to hold the financial backers of climate chaos accountable.