Response to Bank of America’s new 2030 climate targets

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 13, 2022

Press contact: Jackie Fielder, [email protected]

 

Stop the Money Pipeline coalition responds to Bank of America’s new 2030 climate targets

NEW YORK — Today Bank of America announced its 2030 climate targets that sidestep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and opt for reductions in carbon intensity. Despite today’s commitment and a commitment to net zero, the fact remains that Bank of America has provided $232 billion in financing for the fossil fuel industry from 2016 to 2021. The news comes just 9 days after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned investors of stranded fossil fuel assets that will amount to $4 trillion in a world where warming is limited to 2°C, and even more in a world where it is limited to 1.5°C.

“Carbon intensity metrics are one of the worst examples of corporate greenwashing,” said Alec Connon, Stop the Money Pipeline Coalition co-director. “By using carbon intensity metrics, Bank of America has set up a situation where its overall greenhouse gas emissions could continue to rise until 2030 and it would still be able to claim that it has met its climate goals. Hopefully, investors take note of this duplicity and vote in favor of critical climate resolutions this shareholder season.”

Investors are preparing to vote on a slate of shareholder resolutions at the Annual General Meetings (AGMs) of the six biggest US banks, including Bank of America, and several major US insurance companies. The resolutions call for financial companies to adopt policies to ensure their financing activities do not contribute to new fossil fuel expansion. Ahead of the AGMs, the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition has launched a campaign to encourage investors to vote yes on the resolutions. Stop the Money Pipeline is also pushing banks and insurance companies to pass policies, ahead of their AGMs that would prohibit lending, underwriting and insuring to corporations engaged in fossil fuel expansion. 

Just last week, environmental justice organizers led protests in St. James, Louisiana, New York, San Francisco, and Bank of America headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, demanding Bank of America commit to not funding the proposed Formosa Plastics Plant in Southeast Louisiana, a region known as “Cancer Alley” for its concentration of carcinogenic petrochemical facilities. Activists have identified the bank as the most likely bank to finance Formosa Plastics’s proposed “Sunshine Project,” as the bank has already helped the bank, a Taiwan-based company, sell $1 billion in bonds. Goldman Environmental Prize Winner Sharon Lavigne and her organization, RISE St. James, have successfully delayed the project by two years by securing an Environmental Impact Statement from the Biden administration, and have pivoted to lobbying Bank of America officers to “Defund Formosa Plastics.”

 

How Bank of America stacks up to other banks

Citibank’s 2030 climate goals still shadow Bank of America’s and other US banks’ 2030 climate goals, as it uses absolute emissions metrics for oil and gas, instead of intensity targets. Citibank committed to reduce the absolute emissions of its oil and gas portfolio by 29-percent. Two banks in particular–Amalgamated Bank and French public bank La Banque Postale–have set the ultimate standard for bank climate policies. On October 14, 2021, La Banque Postale ($60 billion USD in assets) committed to stop providing services to the oil and gas sectors by 2030. On October 25, 2021, Amalgamated Bank ($6.6 billion USD in assets) became the first US bank to set full portfolio targets under the guidelines of the UN Net Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA), without relying on offsets.

 

The ticking clock

This policy does nothing to address a reduction in absolute greenhouse gas emissions. Of particular concern to climate activists and advocates has been the financial sector’s universal embrace of net zero. At this point, all six major US banks are a part of the NZBA, however they have collectively poured more than $1.4 trillion into the fossil fuel industry since the Paris Climate Agreement was adopted in 2015. Moreover, net zero opens the door to carbon offsets that often require displacement and perpetuates colonization and human rights abuses especially upon Indigenous people in the Global South; carbon capture and sequestration; geoengineering; and other technological solutions that are unproven to work safely at scale.

As it is continuing to fund the expansion of the fossil fuel industry, Bank of America may not be clear on its interpretation of net zero but the scientists of the IPCC are: There is no room in the global 1.5°C carbon budget for the emissions from any new fossil fuel infrastructure. This was affirmed by the International Energy Association in May 2021. The United Nations Production Gap report also says: “global fossil fuel production must start declining immediately and steeply to be consistent with limiting long-term warming to 1.5°C.” Yet fossil fuel financing from the world’s 60 biggest banks in 2020 was higher than in 2016, the year after the Paris Agreement was adopted.

 

The Stop the Money Pipeline coalition is a coalition of nearly 200 organizations working to hold the financial backers of climate chaos accountable. 

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