Bank of America sets new industry best practices for climate change and forest policies
Greenbiz.com,May 26, 2004
Bank of America has pledged to take significant new steps in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, protection of intact forest ecosystems, and transparent public reporting to all stakeholders.
"The health of our environment has a very real effect on the health of our local and regional economies and, therefore, on the health of our company," said Ken Lewis, chief executive officer of Bank of America. "In meeting this responsibility, we are committing to a higher standard of environmental awareness in our business and financing practices and will encourage others in corporate America to do the same."
The announcement articulates targets and timelines to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout Bank of America's chain of activities. Initial reduction goals a 7 percent reduction by 2008 are based on current best estimates of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Bank of America is seeking to promote and implement reductions of greenhouse gas emissions that extend beyond its own operations, including relationships with customers and suppliers. The company hopes the enhanced policy will increase forest protection to encompass intact tropical, temperate, and boreal forest ecosystems.
The policy includes a commitment by Bank of America to assist in funding the ongoing mapping of these regions for future protection. Bank of America will not provide funding for resource extraction from old-growth tropical rainforests, and lending proceeds will not go to logging operations in intact forests as defined by World Resources Institute mapping as it is developed. Provision of lending proceeds in all other old-growth forests will be limited to projects and operations that provide independent, third-party verification of sustainable forestry practices.
"[These] new policies on forest protection, climate change, and indigenous rights reflect the type of leadership we need from the global financial sector," said Michael Brune, executive director of Rainforest Action Network. "By embedding strong environmental principles into its policies and practices, Bank of America is helping the financial sector to live up to the ideals of a democratic economy. We welcome Bank of America into a growing list of companies working to ensure that the natural capital of our global environment and the integrity of local communities are preserved indefinitely."
In addition to policy enhancements, Bank of America will create an environmental council to ensure that the bank's environmental goals and objectives are met, tracked, and reported. The council will be led by Eugene M. McQuade, president of Bank of America, and will include senior executives from various business lines and support functions. Bank of America will meet regularly with Rainforest Action Network and other stakeholders to implement this policy and report on its progress.