How Much is a Planet Worth? – by Bill McKibben

Source: How Much is a Planet Worth? – by Bill McKibben

In a largely overlooked story a few weeks ago, a Reuters team obtained the report that Citibank had prepared for the Federal Reserve, outlining its exposure to climate risk—or, more exactly, the risk of the world actually taking this problem seriously and tackling it head-on. The report said that

The analysis said that if efforts to combat climate change ramped up enough to put the world on a path to bringing greenhouse gas emissions down to zero on a net basis by 2050, the bank would suffer $10.3 billion in loan losses over 10 years, more than the $7.1 billion in losses expected if those efforts did not speed up…

While the estimated hit to Citigroup would be small in relation to the $730 billion wholesale loan book assessed, the analysis provides rare insight into how the transition away from fossil fuels could affect a top Wall Street bank in a key area of its business.

The losses would occur because some of Citigroup’s borrowers in the oil, gas and real estate sectors would take a financial hit if the world was immediately put on track to curb overall greenhouse gas emissions to zero on a net basis by 2050, the document reviewed by Reuters showed.

One way of reading this is to say that Citibank values the earth at something less than the $3.2 billion it would lose if we stopped climate change. We can make this assumption because Citibank—along with its confreres in the big banking world—continue to pour huge amounts of money into the fossil fuel sector, completely ignoring the advice of scientists, and of the International Energy Agency which called for a halt to all new investments in 2021. The latest evidence of their incredible disregard for the future came this week, when Rainforest Action Network and partners issued the 2024 version of the invaluable Banking on Climate Chaos report. The 2024 edition shows that Citi has tossed just shy of $400 billion at the industry since the Paris climate accords were signed, good for second place on the all-time list just behind Chase and just ahead of Bank of America.

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