Story at a glance

  • To meet the ambitious goal, Bank of America will have to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from its own operations as well as engage with the companies it lends to in order to “help accelerate their own transitions to net zero.”
  • Bank of America laid out initial steps to cut its operational emissions by 2030, which include purchasing 100 percent zero carbon electricity and reducing energy use and potable water use by 55 percent, among other initiatives.
  • Environmental groups have welcomed the efforts by the big banks, but some have argued the initiatives don’t go far enough and are missing details.

Bank of America is aiming to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in its financing activities, operations and supply chain by 2050, the group announced Thursday.

The bank joins other major financial institutions, including Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase, in setting corporate policy initiatives that support the goals of the Paris climate accord, which aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.


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To meet the ambitious goal, Bank of America will have to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from its own operations as well as engage with the companies it lends to in order to “help accelerate their own transitions to net zero.” The bank said it plans to establish interim science-based emissions targets for “high-emitting portfolios, including energy and power.” That will be no easy task as Bank of America is heavily invested in oil, gas and coal operations. 

“It is critical that we leverage all parts of our business – beyond our direct operations – in order to accelerate the transition to a net zero global economy,” Anne Finucane, Bank of America’s vice chairman, said in a statement

In the announcement, Bank of America laid out initial steps to cut its operational emissions by 2030, which include purchasing 100 percent zero carbon electricity and reducing energy use and potable water use by 55 percent, among other initiatives. 

“We recognize that this will be no easy task, but we believe our commitment will help spur the growth of zero carbon energy and power solutions, sustainable transportation and agriculture, and other sector transformations, while generating more climate resilient and equitable opportunities for our future,” Finucane said. 

The bank is also set to disclose its financed emissions by 2023 through the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials. In 2019, Bank of America announced it achieved carbon neutrality in its operations a year ahead of schedule, and late last year the bank joined every other major financial institution in the U.S. in committing not to finance oil and gas projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  

The move comes as financial institutions and large corporations have faced increasing pressure to do their part in reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions that are driving the climate crisis. 

Environmental groups have welcomed the efforts by the big banks, but some argue the initiatives don’t go far enough and are missing details. 

“Bank of America’s commitment to reach net-zero emissions before 2050, and its restrictions on financing Arctic drilling and coal operations, are welcome moves and an important sign of progress,” Ben Cushing, Sierra Club financial advocacy campaign manager, said in a statement

“However, it’s hard to see how Bank of America will reach its goal without an interim 2030 target for its financing portfolio and a plan to stop financing fossil fuel expansion,” Cushing said. “A destination without a complete roadmap isn’t going to cut it.”


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Published on Feb 12, 2021