There Goes the Neighborhood: BoA Adopts Carbon Principles

posted by Josh Ran

See below for Bank of America’s most recent attempt at greenwashing — many of you probably know that yesterday, on the very day that RAN, Energy Action and Co-op America were honoring the CEO of Bank of America, Ken Lewis as ‘Fossil Fool of the Year’, NRDC was giving him an award for his big green skyscraper in New York City. The comms team did a fantastic job of getting the Fossil Fools story in the news and our own Robin Beck scoured the streets of New York searching for Ken yesterday (award in hand). Stay tuned for the video.

Seems like Bank of America felt the need to jump on board the Carbon Principles train to underscore it’s green cred – even though the very day after the Carbon Principles were announced, BoA announced their OWN principles that were almost identical. Bank of America has quite a track record of announcing bold commitments and then not following through (case in point: their commitment to reduce the carbon footprint of their utilities portfolio by 7% over 4 years: the actual reduction was only 2%) – so our job is to keep holding their feet to the fire for what’s happening INSIDE that green skyscraper. Luckily, we’re not the only ones that have noticed the disconnect – more than one reporter has recently called to ask why the banks have continued to finance coal since the adoption of the Carbon Principles. Excellent question.

Bank of America Adopts the Carbon Principles

NEW YORK, April 2, 2008 — Bank of America plans to adhere to the Carbon Principles in order to assess carbon-related risks in project financing.

Developed by Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley, the Carbon Principles were designed to help lenders understand the regulatory and financial risks of greenhouse gas emissions when financing utility-sector projects, such as coal-fired power plants. The banks announced a few weeks ago their intent to use the guidelines to evaluate projects that involve public utilities , not only investor-owned utilities.

“The Carbon Principles are critical as we work to secure a more sustainable energy future,” said Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis. “It is my hope that these principles, when combined with Bank of America’s commitment to assess the cost of carbon in our risk and underwriting process, will enable us to better evaluate the business models of utility sector companies and, ultimately, help them move to cleaner technologies in the future.”

Bank of America said it also has a policy against financing projects that threaten primary moist tropical forests, certain endangered forests and companies that engage in illegal logging.

Lewis announced the bank’s adoption of the Carbon Principles Tuesday night at a gala in which the company and mayor of New York City were honored by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The bank’s project financing history, however, has also been the subject of criticism. Also on Tuesday, for instance, Lewis was named the “Fossil Fool of the Year” in an online contest sponsored by Rainforest Action Network, Energy Action Coalition and Co-op America.

Lewis was given the award because of Bank of America’s support for past coal projects: The groups say the bank is a top financial backer of mountaintop coal mining and new coal-fired power plants.

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