At the Costco virtual annual shareholders meeting on January 18, 2024, new CEO Ron Vachris acknowledged the petitions and responded to questions by shareholders about Costco's co-branded credit card relationship with Citi, because of Citi's financing for oil and gas.


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Judith Crosbie: 929-584-3344

[January 19, 2024] New Costco CEO Ron Vachris has told shareholders he will discuss climate action with its credit card issuer Citi, after delivery of a petition signed by 40,000 people calling on Costco to drop Citi because of the bank’s poor climate record.

Mr Vachris on Thursday was responding to questions during the annual shareholders meeting following delivery of the petition the day before by Costco shoppers, shareholders and climate activists. The petition signatories include 18,000 Costco members.

Mr Vachris told shareholders: “we are aware of those petitions that were signed” and that Costco is “going to continue moving forward with our climate action plan and have been in discussions with Citi about their carbon reduction plans in the future”. He added: “We’re going to focus on our efforts that we’re going to take forward, and we’re going to stay very close to Citi and their efforts that they’re going to take forward as well.”

The petition was delivered in a giant card on Wednesday along with a cake at Costco headquarters in Issaquah, with a party, speeches, and songs held afterwards welcoming Mr Vachris to his new role as CEO but telling him not to “let Citi ruin the party… or the climate.” On Thursday as the annual shareholders meeting was taking place, a mobile billboard drove around Costco headquarters and nearby neighborhoods with a message for Mr. Vachris and Costco to “clean up your credit card.”

Photos and video of the action and mobile billboard at Costco HQ are available here.

The push for Costco to drop Citi is being supported by 12 organizations across the US including Third Act, Stop the Money Pipeline, Hip Hop Caucus and Stand.Earth.

The pressure on Costco comes as new data shows the retailer’s carbon footprint from its cash deposits – where banks get to use its money to fund oil, gas, and coal – is equivalent to 85.3% of Costco’s total operational carbon emission (all the energy and gas used for its warehouses, deliveries, capital goods, employee travel and commuting, and more). Costco’s carbon cash footprint is equivalent to 10.1 gas-fired power plants operating for one year.*

Costco’s board has been forced to bend on climate previously. In 2022, almost 70% of shareholders backed a proposal to curb greenhouse gas emissions with Costco agreeing later that year to a plan.

Citi has a dismal record on climate. It is the second biggest funder of fossil fuels in the world and is a major backer of oil, gas and coal companies in the Amazon and Africa. Its biggest fossil fuel client is Exxon Mobil, receiving over $15 billion from the bank, and Citi was lead advisor on the Exxon-Pioneer merger in October, which will see the company double down on oil production. Citi has angered its own shareholders over its funding of oil and gas companies and projects opposed by Indigenous land owners. Despite the global consensus to transition away from fossil fuels, Citi continues to fund new projects.

The petition was launched in September and quickly attracted thousands of signatures. Signatures were also gathered at more than 40 Costco stores around the country, local farmers markets and libraries. Thousands have written to Costco’s customer service raising concerns about the link with Citi.

Bill McKibben co-founder of Third Act, a group for older activists, said:

“Costco has taken a good first step: it has acknowledged the concerns there are with Citi as its credit card issuer. The next step should be robust discussions with Citi over the billions it continues to pour into harmful projects and companies that are contributing to climate change. We eagerly await the outcome of these discussions.”

Chris Goelz, who owns shares in Costco and attended the petition delivery and shareholder meeting, said:

“As a Costco shareholder, I’ll be watching closely to see what emerges in the coming months from Costco’s discussions with Citi on the bank’s funding of oil, gas and coal. Our call remains the same:  Unless Citi significantly curtails its funding of fossil fuel expansion, Costco must find a new credit card partner.”

Anne Shields, a Costco shopper and member of Third Act:

“We are pleased that new Costco CEO Ron Vachris is prepared to listen to 18,000 of his customers like me and to discuss with Citi about getting serious on climate. But Costco should know that talk isn’t enough, we want to see action. We want Costco to make it clear that they will take their business to another bank if Citi doesn’t get serious on climate. I am doing this for the future of my sons and I won’t be giving up.”

Other organizations supporting the push for Costco to drop Citi include Climate Defenders, New York Communities for Change, Green America, Oil & Gas Action Network, Friends of the Earth Action and Climate Action California.

*Data analysis done by Topo Finance, which co-authored the Carbon Bankroll report.