Sometimes change doesn’t come from the direct action camps or the hard actions putting a wrench in the gears of the machine. Sometimes it comes from putting on a suit and having a conversation.
Case in point, while traveling in New York this week, I attended the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit.
The schedule featured a myriad of government, corporate and media folks like Carol Browner, Amory Lovins, lots of corporate CEOs, and Environmental Defense Fund. All folks looking to solve the world’s energy problems and climate change through the marketplace.
It also featured Bank of America Board Chair Charles Holliday. Holliday is the former CEO of Dupont and joined the BofA board after the global financial crisis. He’s also attempting to be a thought leader on sustainability. He’s written a book on it, speaks on it regularly and works with folks like Energy Secretary Steven Chu to figure it all out.
During the Summit, I listened to Holliday’s closing remarks. They were very brief and about his time at Dupont and how he worked to come up with more sustainable forms of energy.
Afterwards, I went up to him and asked, “Given your leadership role in the sustainability and business realm, what do you plan to do as Chairman to make sure Bank of America does not continue as the top financier of the US coal industry?”
He gave me a non-answer answer, said the bank knows about the concerns. He picked up on the fact that I worked for an organization campaigning to end the financing of the coal industry. I took a very respectful non-confrontational tone and he seemed to appreciate it.
I then delivered a letter with our demand set and a request for a meeting.
The demand set includes:
- STOP financing for companies pursuing new coal-fired power plants and life-extending retrofits of existing coal-fired power plants;
- STOP financing for companies engaged in mountaintop removal coal mining;
- STOP financing for companies pursuing coal export infrastructure;
- SHIFT the balance of energy financing to support renewable power generation that is less threatening to our health and environment.
Holliday said he’d read it and get back to us.
We will see.