"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. "At Bank of America, we know we have an opportunity and responsibility as leaders to promote sustainable, environmentally sound economic growth in all our communities. 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."
Today's announcement articulates unprecedented targets and timelines to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout Bank of America's chain of activities. Initial reduction goals are based on current best estimates of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 7 percent by 2008. Bank of America recognizes its responsibility to address climate change and the role of the service sector in promoting and implementing reductions of greenhouse gas emissions that extends beyond its own operations, including relationships with customers and suppliers.
The enhanced policy increases forest protection to encompass intact tropical, temperate and boreal forest ecosystems and 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. Recognizing the connection between the health of our planet and our communities, Bank of America has pledged to deny financing for projects in these sensitive forests where indigenous land claims are not settled.
"Bank of America's 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.
Bank of America has had a strong environmental program since 1992 and is a recognized leader among corporations with environmental policies. The bank was the first Fortune 500 financial institution to endorse both the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) principles and the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiatives (UNEP FI).
Bank of America is one of the world's largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk-management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving 33 million consumer relationships with 5,700 retail banking offices, more than 16,000 ATMs and award-winning online banking with more than ten million active users. Bank of America is rated the No. 1 Small Business Administration Lender in the United States by the SBA. The company serves clients in 150 countries and has relationships with 96 percent of the U.S. Fortune 500 companies and 82 percent of the Global Fortune 500. Bank of America Corporation stock (ticker: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Rainforest Action Network is a San Francisco-based environmental organization that is part of an international movement of grassroots activists who campaign to transform the relationship between economy and ecology by introducing environmental ethics to corporate bottom lines.
Press Release Contact:
Paul West, Rainforest Action Network, 415.398.4404 x319
Shirley Norton, Bank of America, 415.622.4041
Alison Gibbs, Bank of America, 617.434.2489