Big Banks Call For 'Strong' Climate Deal

Without government action, they say, private investment won't be enough.

NEW YORK -- Six big U.S. banks called for a "strong global climate agreement" in a statement Monday, with Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo arguing in a joint release that government action, in addition to private business investment, is needed to address climate change.

The banks said that putting a price on carbon emissions is crucial to increasing investments in clean energy. The right policy frameworks, they wrote, "can help unlock the incremental public and private capital needed to ensure" that the estimated $90 trillion in new infrastructure investments projected over the next 15 years will help reduce, not increase, carbon emissions.

The next round of United Nations climate talks will take place from Nov. 30 through Dec. 11 in Paris. This series of talks has dragged on for years without yielding a significant deal, but as Reuters' David Stanway reports, the 2014 agreement between the U.S. and China means that "a global deal in Paris has become much more likely" -- although Stanway also notes that the individual country targets that have been laid out so far are not as ambitious as many countries would like to see.

The banks' statement adds four major financial institutions to the list of U.S. businesses that support a deal in Paris.

"As U.S. negotiators enter climate talks in Paris, they can say with confidence that the business and financial community in this country is ready for government leadership to address climate change," said Mindy Lubber, president of the nonprofit Ceres, in a statement Monday.

In July, 13 major U.S. companies, including Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, signed a White House statement in favor of a Paris deal. Politically, support from the business community could help to undercut the argument that economic growth and reducing carbon emissions are mutually exclusive goals.

Still, no matter what the country's major banks say, it's not clear whether they'll persuade many Republican lawmakers to get on board with addressing climate change -- especially if those lawmakers are facing primary challenges from tea-party types and already feel insecure about holding on to their seats. It's also far from certain whether the business community can do much to change the anti-climate-action views of conservative lawmakers who have won congressional seats in recent years.