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A letter released today by Rainforest Action Network and signed by 50 financial, environmental and legal experts urges Bank of America to demonstrate leadership on climate and public health by restricting its investments in the coal industry. Signatories on the letter include Rebecca Henderson of Harvard Business School, Noam Chomsky from MIT, Bill McKibben, 350.org founder, Tedd Saunders from the Saunders Hotel Group and 19 investment firms.
A delegation of five signatories will deliver the letter to Bank of America at noon today at 100 Federal Street in downtown Boston.
Bank of America's top executive officers, including CEO Brian Moynihan, are headquartered in Boston. The city is also a leading socially responsible investment (SRI) hub. Signatories on today's letter represent some of the largest and most well respected SRI asset managers in the business, with $3.74 trillion in assets under management.
"Bank of America has a unique opportunity to shift energy financing to support clean, renewable power generation and reduce climate change risks in its operations," said Susan Baker, Vice President, Shareholder Advocacy & Corporate Engagement, Trillium Asset Management, LLC. "Squandering that opportunity shortchanges investors, economic growth and the future of our planet."
Bank of America is the leading financier of U.S. coal, the top contributor to climate change pollution in the country. It invested at least $6.4 billion across the sector in the past two years, according to Bloomberg data. The bank funds every aspect of the industry, from coal-fired power plants to mountaintop removal mining operations in Appalachia to export terminal developments in the Pacific Northwest.
"As a philanthropist, I appreciate the complexities of putting money to work for the greater social good," said Farhad Ebrahimi, founder of the Chorus Foundation. "Bank of America has made some impressive commitments to financing a low carbon economy, but those commitments are undermined by the bank's investments in dirty coal. Only by aligning all of our investments will we see the changes that we so desperately need."
Today's letter delivery to Bank of America illustrates the increasing opposition to the continued extraction and use of coal energy for health, environmental, climate and financial reasons.
"The Boston investment community is taking a big step forward by calling on Bank of America to end its leading role in financing coal and instead demonstrate leadership in the transition to a clean energy economy," said Vanessa Green, a lifetime Boston resident and campaigner with Rainforest Action Network. "Simply put, we cannot solve the climate crisis while the nation's largest banks continue to prop up the coal industry."
The letter urges the bank to address specific elements in a renewed coal policy, including that the bank phase out financing for companies pursuing new coal-fired power plants and life extending retrofits, companies that operate mountaintop removal mines, and companies pursuing new coal export infrastructure. The letter asserts:
"Signatories to this letter include long-term investors of diversified portfolios whose holdings in many respects are representative of the global economy. As a result, investors have a clear financial interest in the enduring health of capital markets and the economy. Coal combustion and its links to negative environmental and health impacts present real risks to investors and bolster the argument for stronger protections of public health and welfare."
Rainforest Action Network's Energy and Finance program combines policy analysis with a national campaign to expose the risks of financing coal while promoting the transition toward a clean energy economy. The organization has achieved more than a dozen landmark policy commitments from America's largest corporations including Disney, Citi, Home Depot, Goldman Sachs, Kinko's, Boise and Lowe's.
To download the letter with a complete list of signers click here: http://ran.org/sites/default/files/letter-boston-11x17.pdf