Banks hunt for footing at Biden's climate summit
Wall Street got a front seat at President Biden's climate summit.
Why it matters: Banks, as financing gateways for other businesses, could help set the tone for the rest of corporate America. They're facing pressure — from world leaders, the United Nations, activists, you name it — to play their biggest role yet in greening the global economy.
Driving the news: Bank of America and Citigroup CEOs appeared at Thursday's summit — a nod to the role the administration sees banks playing in its efforts.
- "Net zero [emissions] is very easy to say, but it’s going to be hard to do. Make no mistake about this, this is going to be really hard," Citi's Jane Fraser said.
- The White House hasn't yet mandated anything on the climate front from the private sector — though regulators could move to mandate climate risk disclosures.
Background: Financial giants this week signed on to the industry's broadest climate change effort so far, as Axios' Ben Geman reports.
- Some banks individually said their operations — including those it finances — would achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
- This UN-backed alliance creates a global common framework to track and verify those emissions. Notably, some banks did not sign on, as Politco reports.
What they're saying: "This is a good business opportunity. We're not doing it because we're getting browbeaten into it," a bank executive involved with the alliance tells Axios of its climate efforts.
Yes, but: Climate activists want banks to go even bigger. Specifically, they want banks to stop financing fossil fuel. The new alliance stops short of calling for that.
- JPMorgan, Bank of America and Citi were the biggest fossil fuel financiers last year, an independent report found.