Dec 16, 2019

Goldman Sachs moves away from financing coal and Arctic oil

A Mendeleev Prospect oil tanker. Photo: Alexander Ryumin/TASS via Getty Images

Goldman Sachs says it won't directly finance Arctic oil-and-gas exploration, new coal-fired power plants (unless they trap carbon), or new mines for coal used in electricity.

The big picture: Those are three big pieces of the banking giant's revised climate policies unveiled over the weekend.

  • The company, via a Financial Times op-ed, also said it's aiming for $750 billion in financing, investment and advisory work over the next 10 years focused on "climate transition and inclusive growth."

Why it matters: The fossil fuel-related policies expand on Goldman's prior stance in several ways, according to environmentalists who track the banking sector.

  • For instance, restrictions on new coal-fired plants previously did not apply to developing countries, which is where planned new coal plant construction is centered.

What they're saying: The Sierra Club and the Rainforest Action Network said the policy is the strongest among major U.S.-based banks

  • However, they said it lags behind some European banks and "remains far from alignment with what is needed to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees Celsius."
  • In analysis circulated to reporters, the groups pointed to various ways in which the policy still allows finance for oil and coal-related projects and companies.

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The coming Wall Street battles over climate change

Extinction Rebellion climate activists protest on Wall Street in October. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

A pair of events over the past few days offers a preview of upcoming investor efforts to push some of the world's largest companies to get more active on global warming.

Why it matters: Shareholder pressure is becoming an increasingly important driver of corporate decision-making at a time when national governments' political will on climate is uneven at best.

Go deeperArrowDec 17, 2019

IEA forecasts rising global coal consumption until 2024

After briefly declining as the Paris Climate Agreement was finalized in 2015, global coal consumption is now poised to keep growing — albeit only slightly, according to a new International Energy Agency forecast.

Go deeperArrowDec 17, 2019

Fiddling while the planet warms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The UN’s annual climate conference ended in failure yesterday, with big decisions on how to slow the relentless rise of global temperatures pushed off to 2020 and beyond.

Why it matters: World leaders gathering at global forums like the UN often frame climate change in existential terms. But their views of what remedies are necessary and fair tend to be colored by their own national interests.

Go deeperArrowDec 16, 2019