If you have gone to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.'s internet home page since mid-December, it would be reasonable to wonder if you had stumbled into some kind of parallel universe.
Visitors are met with a background of lush greenery, along with a banner headline: "Our Commitment to Sustainable Finance."
The company recently announced a $750 billion, 10-year initiative in nine different areas such as clean energy, affordable education and accessible healthcare, and overhauled lending policies to exclude ventures like new Arctic drilling.
Goldman Sachs has not always endeared itself to critics of Wall Street. One journalist, Matt Taibbi, famously called it the "Vampire Squid," with its arms "wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money."
So what is going on, if even Goldman Sachs is going green?
The $750 billion is earmarked for investing in, financing, and advising companies that are pursuing sustainable goals — for instance, reducing carbon emissions.
Goldman Sachs is hardly alone when it comes to big institutions buying into sustainability in a serious way.
Investment giant BlackRock Inc. and its $7 trillion in assets just joined the Climate Action 100+ initiative, pressuring companies to act on climate issues. Citigroup Inc. is another leader in the field, as a longtime and vocal supporter of the Paris Agreement, the landmark environmental accord of 2016. The firm created its Environmental Finance Goal back in 2015, devoting $100 billion to climate change solutions in areas like clean energy, infrastructure and technology.
"The climate issue is not going away, and it's only going to get worse," said Lauren Compère, managing director at Boston Common Asset Management, who authored a recent report on how the world's biggest financial firms are handling environmental issues.
Of course, Goldman Sachs' interest in sustainability is not altruistic: It is a reflection of the fact that this is where business is headed — investing for return while not destroying our collective home.
Globally, sustainable and impact investing has skyrocketed to $12 trillion as of 2018, a 38% increase in two years, according to the US SIF Foundation. And if that investment trend has made for some peculiar alliances, so be it.
"I'm in a place that I wouldn't have imagined was possible," said Goldstein. "But the fact that I've been along for that ride, and I'm still here, speaks for itself."
Chris Taylor writes for Reuters.