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How 'green' are the world's banks?

The top-ranked bank was HSBC. Citigroup and Bank of America rated highest among US institutions.

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Some of the world's top financial institutions are starting to think of green as something other than cash.

They are adding chief environmental officers, committing themselves to sustainable-energy projects, and reducing their greenhouse-gas emissions. In a sense, many of them are going from wingtips to green sneakers.

Turning the bankers into budding Al Gores has significance because of their impact on financing and investment, not to mention that they have considerable real estate holdings.

On Thursday, a new analysis of the top 40 financial institutions found that while no one will mistake the money powerhouses for the Sierra Club, many of them are making "encouraging progress."

"It's a new focus area for the banks. Four years ago this was inconceivable," says Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, a coalition of investors and environmental groups, which released the report. "This could have a profound impact because the banks are now becoming a part of the solution."

On a scale of zero to 100, the top-ranked bank, London-based HSBC, had a score of 70. According to the report, the changes the bank has made include an environmental oversight committee on its board of directors, a chief environmental officer, and the purchase of 40 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources.

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