Gap Score

After making some gains last year, Citi drops five spots from #44 to #49 this year with a weakening performance assessment as resource intensities and emissions increased. Still, the financial institution is quietly meeting many of its sustainability goals. In 2011, Citi met its 10 percent greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target and aims to reduce its carbon footprint by 25 percent (compared to 2005 levels) by 2015. Also committed to increasing its LEED-certified buildings, the bank has currently completed more than 200 such projects and expects to reach 260 by end of 2013. To encourage its institutional clients to go paper-free, Citi Transaction Services (CTS) will invest in 10 seedlings to be planted by the Plant-for-the-Planet Billion Tree Campaign for every tree saved through a client’s enrollment in paperless statements. Perhaps its most visible recent green contribution, however, is the CitiBike public bike share program, which just rolled out in New York City. For these efforts and more—such as their push to investing in a California wind farm—Bloomberg rates Citi as the greenest bank this year. Newsweek also named Citi its greenest bank based on Citigroup’s USD $50 billion global Climate Initiative. Despite these initiatives and external acknowledgements, the financial institution hangs at the edge of the ranking, partially due to its large-scale investments in coal industries, which contribute heavily to climate change impacts, and partially due to the general negative sentiment that continues to impact financial brands. However, by strongly associating its name with a program in a major city that reduces traffic and makes urban travel easier and more affordable—and is already inspiring similar programs across the US—Citi may reap higher perceptions next year.