Bank of America – Moritorium on Coal Financing (2008)
Outcome: Omitted by SEC
Bank of America (BOA) is a diversified financial services company providing banking,investment, investment banking, credit card and consumer finance services.BOA recognizes that its ability to attract and retain customers and employees could be adversely affected “to the extent our reputation is damaged” and that “failure to address, or to appear to fail to address various issues” could damage the Corporation and its business prospects. (2005 Annual Report)BOA also recognizes that:
- The health of our company is dependent on the health of communities and our society;
- Climate change and atmospheric pollution represent a risk to the ultimate stability and sustainability of our way of life; and
- Every part of our business has a potential impact on our environment.
BOA’s greatest impact on climate change and the environment arises from its financing of businesses and activities, such as electric power generated from coal-burning plants, that emit substantial greenhouse gases (e.g., carbon dioxide) and other pollutants.
As a leading financial institution, BOA has adopted a goal of reducing direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from its facilities by 9% and indirect GHGs within its energy & utility portfolio by 7%.
However, BOA continues to provide financing for companies engaged in mountain top removal (MTR) coal mining and for coal-fired electric power, which, in addition to having serious adverse impacts on communities, the environment, and public health, may also increase the long-term indirect GHG emissions within BOA’s portfolio.
MTR devastates the environment. Forests are clear-cut, the top of mountains blasted away to reveal coal seams and the rubble dumped in the valleys below, filling streams and destroying water resources. Between 1992 and 2012, the US Environmental Protection Agency estimates MTR will have destroyed approximately 7% of Appalachian forests in coal mining regions studied. (http://www.epa.gov/Region3/mtntop/pdf/mtm-vf_fpeis_full-document.pdf)
Deforestation is the second leading source of GHG emissions worldwide. (http://www.gsfc.nasa.gov/gsfc/service/gallery/fact_sheets/earthsci/green.htm)
The carbon in forests destroyed by MTR each year roughly equals the annual emissions from two 800 megawatt coal-fired power plants.
Coal-burning plants, which supply nearly half of U.S. electric power, are responsible for 80% of the nation’s GHG emissions from this sector. Technology for capturing and sequestering carbon from coal-burning plants is in the pilot stage and not widely available. Uncertainties remain regarding leakage and impact on underground water sources.
Coal plants also release most of the sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter and mercury, which harms reproductive health and mental development in children. (http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/coalvswind/c02c.html)
Dr. James Hansen, a leading climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Center, has urged an immediate moratorium on the construction of new coal fired power plants in the U.S. as a priority to avoid triggering dangerous destabilization of the Earth’s climate systems. (http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/dots_feb2007.ppt)
Shareholders request that BOA’s board of directors amend its GHG emissions policies to observe a moratorium on all financing, investment and further involvement in activities that support MTR coal mining or the construction of new coal-burning power plants that emit carbon dioxide.