(Bloomberg) -- Scores of climate activists gathered outside Citigroup Inc.’s headquarters in downtown Manhattan on Monday, to mark what they say is the beginning of a months-long campaign to try to disrupt operations at the bank.

More than 20 protesters were arrested, according to a spokeswoman for the New York City Police Department. Citigroup employees were still able to enter the building.  

Protesters have dubbed their campaign the Summer of Heat. On a website replete with slogans such as “Hot People Hate Wall St.” and “Eat the Rich,” the authors of the program say their primary goal is to get banks to stop financing coal, oil and gas projects. The website states that the group will be “going hard all summer long. Week after week. Month after month.”

Organizers say they’re singling out Citigroup not just because of what they view as its unacceptable support of the fossil-fuel industry, but because they think they’re more likely to make an impression on the bank than on many of its peers.

“It’s a drastic measure for a drastic moment,” Alec Connon, co-director of the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition of more than 230 environmental nonprofits that are part of the campaign against Citigroup, said before the protests got underway. 

Alice Hu, a senior climate campaigner at New York Communities for Change, says protesters will measure their success based on Citigroup’s response. If the bank needs to barricade its global headquarters or tells staff to stay at home, “then we have already won,” she said before the protests started.

Citigroup respects the right to protest, but doesn’t condone disruptive or aggressive tactics, said Ed Skyler, the bank’s head of enterprise services and public affairs, during an interview on Friday. 

“We have an open door for constructive engagement, but if the intent is to try to intimidate employees or prevent them from getting to work, that’s not very productive and doesn’t do much for their cause,” Skyler said before the protests.

Climate activists behind the planned protests refer to a report titled Banking on Climate Chaos, which says Citigroup has provided $204 billion to clients expanding the production of fossil fuels since the Paris climate agreement was signed in late 2015. That’s more than any other Wall Street bank, according to the report. An analysis by a group called Reclaim Finance has made similar claims. 

The finance industry has offered considerable pushback against the methodology underlying the research.

Data compiled by Bloomberg ranks Citigroup as the sixth-largest provider of loans to oil, gas and coal since the Paris agreement. However, Citigroup’s fossil-fuel lending has steadily receded in recent years. Since the beginning of 2022, for example, the bank ranks No. 10.

On her first day as CEO in early 2021, Chief Executive Officer Jane Fraser committed Citigroup to a 2050 net-zero emissions goal. She’s also sought to position the bank as a climate leader, with Citigroup’s website referring to efforts to help decarbonize clients as part of a program to incorporate “the principles of sustainability” across its business.

Meanwhile, Citigroup is among banks to have been blacklisted in mostly Republican states including West Virginia and Texas, where GOP lawmakers have accused it of “boycotting” the fossil-fuel industry.

“There’s pressure from both sides and what we have to do is try and find the best path for us,” said Skyler.

As one of the world’s most active global banks, Citigroup is no stranger to preparing for physical disruption. The bank has been able to maintain its operations in war-torn Ukraine, even as others withdrew. Citigroup also operates in Haiti, where the US has sent military personnel to help tackle the intense fighting.

--With assistance from Todd Gillespie.

(Updates with fossil-fuel data, background on Citi’s net-zero goal, and comment from climate activist.)

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