Goldman Sachs says it will support 'green' initiatives more forcefully

A trader works inside the Goldman Sachs stall on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange

By Elizabeth Dilts Marshall

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Goldman Sachs Group Inc outlined plans on Monday to put money and advice toward projects that fight climate change or help financially disadvantaged people, with executives arguing it is not only the right thing to do but can generate income.

The Wall Street bank set a lofty-sounding target of $750 billion (585 billion pounds). The figure is a mix of loans, underwriting, advisory services and investments related to projects Goldman expects to be involved with by 2030.

It reflects the total size of loans, deals and other arrangements Goldman expects to perform as a bank or intermediary with companies and projects focused on renewable energy, sustainable transportation, affordable education and several other areas, the bank said.

Goldman also implemented a formal ban on financing certain drilling and coal activities.

The moves come as pressure from activists and some investors has ratcheted up globally on banks' activities financing fossil fuels or other sectors that have come into the political crosshairs, like gun makers. Banks have also faced more scrutiny over their role in increasing economic inequality by catering to wealthy customers while shunning patrons who need access to financial services to better their lives.

Goldman catered almost exclusively to the elite until it was forced to rethink its business model in the aftermath of the 2007-2009 financial crisis. In recent years, management decided to launch a retail bank and has tried to spruce up Goldman’s image among Main Street consumers.

On a call with reporters, Goldman executives declined to break down specifics about the $750 billion target in terms of revenue or the bank’s own exposure. They said it will be dependent on market forces, making it hard to predict.

There is "a powerful business and investing case" for working with companies that are taking steps to address climate change and inclusive growth, Goldman Sachs Chief Executive David Solomon wrote in an editorial in the Financial Times on DAY announcing the goal.

Goldman's moves, which also included ruling out any new loans for Arctic drilling or thermal coal mines, came just as the United Nations concludes a conference that failed to ramp up efforts to combat global warming.

A recent example cited on Monday's call is a bond offering Goldman handled for Italian electricity company Enel earlier this year. Enel raised $1.5 billion, linking the debt to its commitment to increase its renewable energy base by 25% before 2022.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts Marshall; Editing by Dan Grebler and Sandra Maler)