When Apple Inc. (AAPL) decided to borrow $1 billion through "green bonds" earlier this year to make its operations more energy efficient, it turned to a trio of Wall Street book runners including JPMorgan Chase & Co.
The unsecured 3% notes that the Cupertino, Calif.-based iPhone maker ultimately issued are just one example of the financing alternatives that JPMorgan (JPM) , the largest U.S. lender, can offer clients as it ramps up clean-energy funding by 25%.
Its new target, $200 billion through 2025, is important to corporate clients seeking to curb reliance on fossil fuels as warnings from scientists about the fallout from using them take on heightened urgency. The Earth's surface has warmed about 2 degrees since the late 19th century, with the years since 1980 accounting for most of the change, melting polar ice caps and spawning more violent tropical storms.
"We take environmental issues really seriously as a bank," Marisa Buchanan, the New York-based bank's deputy head of sustainable finance, said in a telephone interview. "We don't see this as the end -- we're going to continue to push ourselves and work with our clients as they continue to innovate and be there to support them in their sustainability transition."
At the same time, the firm -- which has already worked with General Electric Co. (GE) to reduce power consumption at its branches -- plans to seek renewable sources for all of its own operations by 2020. JPMorgan's offices occupy more than 75 million square feet in 60 countries -- about 27 times the office space in New York City's Empire State Building.
"Business must play a leadership role in creating solutions that protect the environment and grow the economy," JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said in a statement. "This global investment leverages the firm's resources and our people's expertise to make our operations more energy efficient and provide clients with the resources they need to develop more sustainable products and services."
Indeed, firms are facing growing pressure from shareholder activists like the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility to address climate change, especially after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord.
This year, the center introduced more than 100 resolutions targeting the issue at corporate annual meetings, and its successes included convincing oil-producer ExxonMobil (XOM) to add climate change expert Dr. Susan Avery.
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JPMorgan's clean-energy work so far includes advising Danish offshore wind-power generator Dong Energy on a $3 billion public offering in 2016 and working with SunEdison Inc.'s creditors on the sale of a controlling stake in TerraForm Power Inc. to Brookfield Asset Management Inc. this year.
"We acknowledge there's a lot to do to support the renewable energy and clean technology markets," Erin Robert, JPMorgan's head of capital strategy for sustainable finance, said in the interview. "We're supporting clients who are, in their own transactions, helping to green their footprints."
The bank's breadth of operations will be a unique benefit to customers who "come to us looking for solutions in clean energy or clean technology," Robert added. "We can be thought leaders and innovators in how we approach that."
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Editors' pick: Originally published Aug. 16.