Bank of America Announces $50 Billion Environmental Goal

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, June 11, 2012 (ENS) – Bank of America today announced a new 10-year, $50 billion environmental business goal to help address climate change, reduce demands on natural resources and advance lower-carbon economic solutions.

The new goal, effective January 1, 2013, follows the anticipated completion of the company’s current 10-year, $20 billion environmental business initiative, completed four years ahead of schedule.

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan (Photo by Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce)

“Environmental business delivers value to our clients, return for our shareholders, and helps strengthen the economy,” said Bank of America Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan. “We met our prior goal in about half the time we set for ourselves, so more than doubling our target is ambitious but achievable.”

The bank intends to achieve its new goal through lending, equipment finance, carbon finance, capital markets and advisory activity, and advice and investment solutions for clients.

“The company expects to grow its business activities around the world as governments, companies and individuals worldwide shift spending and investing patterns in response to energy security, resource efficiency and broader environmental awareness,” the bank said in a statement today.

The bank also announced a goal to provide $100 million in grants and program-related investments to nonprofit organizations, community development financial institutions and other nongovernmental organizations promoting low-carbon and resource conservation solutions.

Rainforest Action Network climbers scaled Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina to drop a banner criticizing the bank’s role in financing the coal industry, May 2, 2012 (Photo by John Duffy courtesy RAN)

Environmental groups that oppose the bank’s role in financing the coal industry are not impressed with its newly announced $50 billion initiative. They say the bank does not address its role in financing fossil fuels, like coal, which are the leading cause of climate emissions in the United States.

Amanda Starbuck, director of the Energy and Finance Program at Rainforest Action Network, said today, “Bank of America cannot have its cake and eat it too, we cannot applaud its climate and renewable energy commitments while the bank is also playing a leading role in financing the coal industry. Plain and simple, increasing support for renewable energy and not decreasing funding for coal will not do what’s needed to reduce emissions and protect the climate.”

Between 2010 and 2011, she said, Bank of America provided $6.4 billion in underwriting for U.S. coal. “Bank of America finances climate and community pollution at every stage in the coal industry. It spends billions each year underwriting mountaintop removal coal mining companies and utilities that operate the dirtiest coal-burning power plants in the country.”

“Bank of America’s commitment to renewable energy is a step in the right direction,” Starbuck acknowledged, “however,” she said, “the bank is simultaneously taking two steps back by continuing to underwrite the coal industry. The bottom line is we cannot reduce the emissions necessary to stem climate change with renewable energy funding alone, we must also curb our use of coal and Bank of America’s new environmental initiative makes no move to do that.”

The bank says the areas of focus for its $50 billion initiative include:

  • Energy efficiency – in residential, commercial, and public properties, as well as supporting the full supply chain that drives energy efficiency.
  • Renewable energy and energy infrastructure – including wind, solar, hydro, biomass and waste-to-energy solutions and their upstream and downstream supply chains, as well as smart grid and large-scale energy storage infrastructures.
  • Transportation – including lower carbon forms of transport such as electric and hybrid-electric vehicles, batteries, fuel cells and sustainable bio-fuels, as well as developing local and regional charging infrastructure.
  • Water and waste – focusing on new technologies and infrastructure development, including water purification and waste disposal and recycling.

The bank also introduced new goals to reduce the environmental impact of its own operations by 2015, including:

  • 25 percent reduction in energy consumption from 2004 – equal to eliminating 1.2 million megawatt hours of annual energy use from the bank’s portfolio.
  • 20 percent reduction in paper consumption from a 2010 baseline. All paper used by the bank will contain 20 percent post-consumer recycled content and be sourced entirely from certified forests.
  • 20 percent reduction in global water consumption from a 2010 baseline.
  • 70 percent diversion of global waste from landfill. All electronic waste streams to be disposed of using certified, responsible vendors.
Bank of America LEED-certified building in New York’s Bryant Park (Photo courtesy Bank of America)

These new goals build on the May 2011 announcement that by 2015, Bank of America plans to achieve more than 30 percent aggregate reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions from a 2004 baseline and 20 percent LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certification within its corporate workplace portfolio.

As part of the company’s commitment to LEED building, it partnered with The Durst Organization to build the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park in New York City, the world’s first Platinum-certified high-rise office building under the LEED Core and Shell rating system and one of the world’s most environmentally responsible high-rise office buildings.

At the opening of One Bryant Park in May 2010, former Vice President Al Gore said, “Any serious effort to solve the climate crisis must start with recapturing the enormous amounts of energy wasted due to inefficiency. Roughly 30 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions here in the United States come from heating, cooling, and lighting buildings. I’m honored that my firm, Generation Investment Management, is based here.”

“Meeting these aggressive, industry-leading goals requires new ways of working across our company,” said Bessant. “We have a strong culture of environmental sustainability.”

“Our work is even stronger due to important collaboration with a number of leaders in this space like Ceres, Carbon Disclosure Project and the U.S. Green Building Council, who have helped us define and shape our focus as we continue to deliver impressive results,” she said.

Under the bank’s current 10-year, $20 billion environmental business plan, as of March 31, 2012, it reports delivery of $17.9 billion toward that initiative, including:

  • Nearly $1 billion for consumer financing of hybrid vehicle purchases.
  • $5 billion, or 28 percent, for renewable energy projects such as helping California’s San Jose Unified School District become one of the largest solar powered systems in the world, and working with integrated food-energy business CleanStar Mozambique to replace thousands of charcoal-burning cook stoves with cleaner bio-ethanol fueled stoves. In 2011, the company helped arrange and finance the world’s two largest rooftop solar projects – one with clients Prologis and NRG Energy, and the other with SolarCity.
  • $8.4 billion, or 47 percent, for energy efficiency activities, ranging from its $55 million Energy Efficiency Finance Program to provide low-cost loans and grants for energy efficiency retrofits in low-income neighborhoods, to financing lighting, heating and cooling equipment upgrades in public housing developments, commercial and government buildings.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2012. All rights reserved.