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Banks Get ESG Upgrades Despite Lending Billions for Fossil Fuels

Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley received a boost in their green credentials from MSCI, even after providing $74 billion to polluting companies.

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Photographer: James MacDonald/Bloomberg

The world’s leading rater of green credentials is rewarding some of Wall Street’s biggest banks even though they continue to lend billions of dollars to fossil-fuel companies.

Those credentials come in the form of upgrades from MSCI Inc., which ranks corporations globally on environmental, social and governance criteria. In the past two years, Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Morgan Stanley were among banks that got an ESG headline-rating upgrade for environmental reasons, even though the three banks arranged a combined $74 billion of loans for fossil-fuel companies.