Bank of America has announced it will direct $50 billion to address climate change over the next ten years, but it was slammed by an NGO for not addressing its financing of coal businesses.
The bank’s new goal will be effective from 2013, as its previous $20 billion target, set in 2007, will be met by the end of this year, four years early.
Its environmental business initiative will consist primarily of lending, equipment finance, capital markets, advisory services, carbon finance, and advice and investment solutions for clients.
The areas of focus include energy efficiency, renewable energy and infrastructure, low-carbon transportation and water and waste.
The bank also announced a goal to provide $100 million in grants and programme-related investments to non-profit organisations, community development financial institutions and other NGOs involved with low-carbon technologies and forestry.
But the bank did not address its role in financing fossil fuels, said San Francisco-based NGO Rainforest Action Network (RAN), which added that its financing initiative for renewables is not enough to reduce emissions and protect the planet.
“Bank of America’s commitment to renewable energy is a step in the right direction. However, the bank is simultaneously taking two steps back by continuing to underwrite the coal industry,” said Amanda Starbuck, director of RAN’s energy and finance programme.
“Coal is the elephant in Bank of America’s environmental commitments. Between 2010 and 2011, Bank of America provided $6.4 billion in underwriting for US coal,” she added.
The bank is one of the signatories of the Carbon Principles, launched in 2008 to evaluate and address carbon risks involved with financing coal-fired power projects in the US and encourage clients to pursue low-carbon alternatives.
Bank of America last year set a target to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 30% by 2015, compared with a 2004 baseline, and yesterday announced new internal measures to meet the 2015 target.
“Meeting these aggressive, industry-leading goals requires new ways of working across our company,” said Cathy Bessant, global technology and operations executive and chair of Bank of America’s environmental council. “We have a strong culture of environmental sustainability,” she added.
Last month, US bank Goldman Sachs announced a target to make $40 billion of renewable energy investments or financings over the next ten years – also a target attacked by NGOs in the context of a lack of transparency over its fossil fuels financing.
By. Elza Holmstedt Pell
Source: Environmental Finance