Bank with huge investments in fossil fuels got Irish taxpayer support of €10m

Citibank received the money from the IDA in 10 separate sums

Citibank has been listed in an annual report as the second largest funder of fossil-fuel companies in the world. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg© Bloomberg

Caroline O'Doherty

A bank that is one of the world’s biggest investors in fossil fuels received almost €10m from the taxpayer to support its operations in Ireland.

Citibank received the money in employment grants and research and development funding from the Industrial Development Agency (IDA) in 10 separate sums between 2005 and 2016.

The bank, which has its European headquarters in Dublin, is listed in the annual “Banking on Climate Chaos” report as the second largest funder of fossil-fuel companies in the world.

Climate campaigners say it must now clean up its act and that the Government should not support its presence here if it continues to pump money into oil and gas.

Saoirse McHugh, of campaign group Uplift, said it contradicted Ireland’s official stance on fossil-fuel divestment to allow the bank, or others based here, to continue investing in fossil fuels.

Ireland was the first country to pass laws pulling all public funds out of oil, gas and coal investments in 2018.

“Despite very promising-sounding pledges and statements about their sustainability goals, Citibank continues to pour billions of euro every year into the most damaging types of fossil-fuel projects,” said Ms McHugh.

“It seems wild to think that while we figure out how to transform our transport, agriculture, and electricity systems to reduce emissions rapidly, the likes of Citibank sit there in the IFSC, pouring literally billions of euro every year into the very worst of the fossil-fuel companies.

“If the Irish Government is committed to hosting these companies, then they need to face up to their role in climate breakdown and, in turn, figure out how to deal with these companies.”

Details of the state funding for Citibank were provided to People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy following questions to Enterprise Minister Simon Coveney.

“The majority of this support was provided to enable Citi to research, develop and deploy leading-edge financial technology from its Dublin operation,” the minister said.

“In that regard, Citi’s research and development investments in Ireland in this period have resulted in substantial growth in employment, from 1,296 staff in 2002 to approximately 3,000 during the period in question.”

He said the IDA did consider climate action when grant-aiding companies and was working with his department on developing a model for incorporating emission reduction in project evaluations.

“The pilot of this model is well advanced and the agency should be in a position to implement the new model by year-end,” he said.

Mr Murphy said the department needed to take a firmer stance.

“If Government rhetoric about climate action is to mean anything, state funding for companies like Citibank should be conditional on full divestment from fossil fuels,” he said.

In a statement, Citibank said: “Citi recognises the importance of transitioning to a low-carbon economy.

“That’s why we’re investing in clean energy solutions through our net-zero commitments and our $1trillion sustainable finance goal, while working with all our clients, including our fossil-fuel clients, to support their efforts to decarbonise their businesses.

“Our approach reflects the need to transition while also continuing to meet today’s global energy needs.”