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BANK OF AMERICA TURNS ITS BACK ON THE COAL-MINING INDUSTRY

In its new coal policy, Bank of America says it will divest from the coal-mining sector and increase lending to green projects.

In early May, during its annual shareholder meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, Bank of America released its new coal policy and announced its commitment to reduce its financing to coal-mining companies; in fact, the policy states that “Bank of America will continue to reduce our credit exposure to coal extraction companies”. The bank also pledged it will increase its investments in renewable energies, energy efficiency and carbon capture and storage.

This decision follows the bank’s acknowledgment of the risks coal investments entail: a Bank of America spokeswoman said that “over the last several years, the coal mining sector has experienced a challenging environment in which increasing risks and shifting dynamics have reshaped its landscape”, and the policy makes explicit reference to pollution regulations, changes in economic conditions, increased competition from shale gas and renewable energy. Also, a research from the think-tank Carbon Tracker recently stressed that the US coal sector has entered a “structural decline”.

The announcement has been hailed by many as a momentous step forward in the shift away from fossil fuels, and Amanda Starbuck, who is climate and energy programme director at the Rainforest Action Network (RAN), stated that this “acknowledges the responsibility that the financial sector bears for supporting and profiting from the fossil fuel industry and the climate chaos it has caused”. RAN also highlighted that Bank of America is the first global bank to pledge a scale down in its coal mining exposure.

However, according to the Coal Finance Report Card, Bank of America is still among the main investors in the coal-mining sector worldwide, and in 2014 financed coal mining companies with more than $1.3 billion.

Moreover, among the bank’s clients is Coal India, a major Indian company that reportedly perpetrates human rights abuses and exploits child labour. With regard to this matter, the new policy says the bank would take into account “the impacts of client operations on local communities. We support fundamental principles of human rights, and expect our clients to do the same”.

 

The gLAWcal Team

POREEN project

Friday, 8 May 2015

(Source: Guardian)