Scientists: Tell Citi to Stop Financing Climate Destruction

To: Citi CEO Jane Fraser and Citi Board Chairman John Dugan

As scientists, researchers, and experts in our field, we are writing to emphasize the acute nature of the climate crisis, and to urge Citi to adopt a policy excluding financing for fossil fuel expansion, particularly for projects and activities that pollute Black, Brown, Indigenous, and other frontline communities. The financial industry must recognize the physical harms and economic risks it is exacerbating by enabling fossil fuel expansion, and rapidly adopt new policies that align with a safer climate future.

The increasing urgency of the climate crisis is undeniable. 2023 was by far the hottest year on record, continuing a trend of the last 10 years being the hottest decade. People around the world were affected by deadly wildfires, floods, droughts, and storms. The United States experienced the highest-ever annual number of billion-dollar plus disasters, many of which bear the fingerprints of climate change. Already, climate catastrophes are wreaking havoc on lives, health, infrastructure, ecosystems, and economies throughout the world—with those who have the fewest resources and who have done the least to contribute to the problem being most severely harmed. The science is clear that climate impacts will be significantly worse if we do not make deep, rapid cuts to heat-trapping emissions, phase out fossil fuels, and pursue a just transition to a clean energy system.

According to the 2024 Banking on Climate Chaos report, Citi is the second-largest financier of fossil fuels since the adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement, having poured $396 billion into the industry since 2016. In that same time period, the lion’s share (80 percent) of global fossil CO2 emissions can be traced to just 57 oil, gas, coal, and cement producers. Research demonstrates that more than 40 percent of the increase in global mean surface temperature from 1880-2010, roughly 55 percent of the increase in ocean acidification from 1880-2015, and 37 percent of total area burned by forest fires in western North America since 1986 are linked to the emissions of the major carbon producers. The fossil fuel industry knew 60 years ago that its products could cause dangerous climate impacts, yet it chose to engage in a concerted campaign of deception and denial to delay climate action. The industry’s deceptive practices continue to this day in the form of greenwashing and interference in political processes. This industry is fueling an existential threat to global society, and Citi must stop propping it up.

Additionally, fossil fuel operations and petrochemical infrastructure pose serious environmental justicepublic health, and human rights threats to people around the world, from “Cancer Alley” in the United States to unremediated oil pollution in the Amazon to chronic pollution and destruction of ways of life in the Niger delta. At a recent event called “The People Vs Citi: Confronting Citigroup’s Environmental Racism,” leaders from overburdened communities highlighted how Citi’s financing of fossil fuels has harmed their communities by allowing for the expansion of liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, petrochemical facilities, oil refineries, and oil pipelines, which disproportionately pollute communities of color. They also spoke about the fossil fuel industry’s extensive human rights violations against Indigenous peoples throughout the world. Citi’s stated commitments to racial equity ring hollow unless it takes accountability for the harms caused by its financing of fossil fuels and listens to the demands of affected communities.

With this scientific evidence in mind, we urge Citi to phase out financing for fossil fuels, in line with what the science, justice, and public health imperatives show is necessary. Specifically, Citi must:

  • Stop financing and supporting coal, oil, and gas companies that are engaged in upstream oil and gas development, and all other companies investing in fossil fuel expansion.
  • Strengthen sectoral finance exclusion policies, including ending funding and financing services for new and expanding LNG projects and their parent companies.
  • Increase financing for renewable energy in line with what is required for the world to make a clean energy transition and limit global warming to as close to 1.5°C as possible.
  • Ensure that human rights, Indigenous sovereignty, and the rights of workers are respected by every company financed, including renewable energy and battery mineral mining companies.
  • Take steps to acknowledge and make restitution for the bank’s role in fueling climate chaos and environmental racism around the world and pay into a fund to support those bearing the brunt of extreme climate impacts, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Loss and Damage Fund.

Given the urgency of this global crisis, Citi must adopt these measures swiftly. Rapidly phasing out fossil fuels is necessary to allow for a livable future for people, the economy, and the planet.


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