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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A big, UN-backed umbrella group of banks, asset managers, investors and insurers launched Wednesday to boost private clean tech finance and press polluting industries that use their services to cut emissions.

Why it matters: The Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) is the broadest financial industry effort yet on climate change.

  • The group's 160-plus members are responsible for over $70 trillion in assets, organizers said.
  • "GFANZ will work to mobilise the trillions of dollars necessary to build a global zero emissions economy and deliver the goals of the Paris Agreement," the announcement states.

The big picture: It coordinates various industry initiatives and seeks to add methodological rigor to pledges to decarbonize lending portfolios and other practices.

  • It's led by Mark Carney, a UN climate ambassador and climate finance advisor to the U.K., which hosts a big UN climate summit late this year.
  • Biden administration officials support the effort that arrives just ahead of this week's White House climate summit.
  • Participants include Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Munich Re, the Zurich Insurance group and many others.

How it works: The new group combines some existing financial sector initiatives and adds new efforts.

  • Today brought simultaneous rollout of the Net-Zero Banking Alliance of 43 banks from 23 countries.
  • GFANZ will provide "strategic coordination" across financial sectors to "accelerate the transition to a net zero economy" it states.
  • Signatories must set "set science-aligned" interim and long-term goals for net zero emissions by 2050.

The banks involved agree to ensure emissions from their lending and investment portfolios are on a "pathway" to net zero by 2050, with interim targets beginning no later than 2030.

The banks will especially focus on the most emissions-intensive industries in their portfolios, like oil-and-gas, aluminum, cement, power and others.

What they're saying: Several environmentalists were critical of GFANZ and the banking portion in particular this morning, noting the voluntary efforts don't do nearly enough to move finance away from fossil fuels.

  • "All that glitters is not gold. What seems at first glance to be quite ambitious, actually lacks the urgency and ambition that the climate crisis demands," said Becky Jarvis of the advocacy group Bank On Our Future in a statement.
  • "Net-zero means fossil fuel phase out, a term which this alliance seems to be allergic to," Jarvis said.
  • Jeanne Martin of the sustainable investment advocacy group ShareAction said net zero plans aren't credible without setting dates to end financing for fossil fuels and deforestation. "It is time for regulators to step in to prevent financial and planetary instability," Martin said.

Go deeper

The U.S. credibility chasm on climate change

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The biggest hurdle for President Biden in winning new emissions reduction commitments at this week's White House summit is America's on-again, off-again history of climate change efforts.

Why it matters: The global community is off course to meet the temperature targets contained in the Paris Climate Agreement. The White House wants the summit Thursday and Friday to begin to change that.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Apr 19, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Treasury Dept. unveils climate "hub" and names former Obama official as lead

The U.S. Treasury Building. Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

The Treasury Department offered more information Monday on plans to expand its focus on global warming, and said John E. Morton, a climate finance expert who served in the Obama administration, will lead the efforts.

Why it matters: Announcement of the new "Climate Hub" and Morton's appointment signal how the Biden administration is stitching climate policy into the fabric of agencies across the government.

Greta Thunberg to testify before House panel on Earth Day

Climate activist Greta Thunberg in Berlin in August 2020. Photo: Kay Nietfeld/picture alliance via Getty Images

Climate activist Greta Thunberg will testify before the House Oversight Subcommittee on the Environment on Thursday, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), chairman of the panel, announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: The Earth Day hearing — titled “The Role of Fossil Fuel Subsidies in Preventing Action on the Climate Crisis" — will coincide with the White House's climate summit, which is expected to showcase a new 2030 U.S. emissions-cutting target.

Go deeper: What to expect from this week's White House climate summit