Goldman Sachs Curbs New Lending on Coal and Arctic Oil – by Russell Ward (Bloomberg News – December 15, 2019)

(Bloomberg) — Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has tightened its policy on fossil fuel financing in a move welcomed by environmental groups, just as global talks on climate change faltered in Madrid over the weekend.

The Wall Street firm’s recently updated environmental policy framework includes pledges to decline financing that directly supports new thermal coal mines and upstream Arctic oil exploration and development. The company is targeting $750 billion for “climate transition and inclusive growth finance” over the next decade, according to its website.

Goldman’s stricter stance came as climate discussions in Madrid reached a disappointing end, with delegates from almost 200 nations watering down language on issues they had agreed on in previous years. While agreeing on the “urgent need” for countries to make deeper cuts to greenhouse gases, they shelved work on adding market mechanisms to meet their goals and failed to agree on finance needed to fix the problem.

An increasing number of global banks have been reducing their lending to the coal industry, a leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and increasing financing for renewable energy.

The Rainforest Action Network and the Sierra Club said that the revisions on fossil fuel financing make Goldman’s policy “now the strongest among the big six U.S. banks,” while still behind those of European lenders including Credit Agricole SA and BNP Paribas SA.

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