Bank of America GHG Assessment 2014
|Company||Bank of America Corporation|
|Filer||Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary|
|Sector||Banking, Financial Services|
|Subject(s)||Climate Change; Greenhouse Gas Emissions|
|Resolved Clause Summary||Report assessing climate risk from financed emissions|
Bank of America is a top financier of companies in greenhouse gas emissions-intensive industries such as coal mining, oil and gas production, and fossil fuel-based electric power.
Banks contribute to climate change through their financed emissions, which are the emissions induced by a bank’s loans to and investments in companies that emit greenhouse gases. A bank’s financed emissions typically dwarf its other climate impacts and expose it to reputational and financial risks. To measure their financed emissions, banks have access to accounting tools developed by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, a partnership between the World Resources Institute and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (http://bit.ly/UxdrSh).
The Carbon Tracker Initiative has found that the mispricing of climate risk from the fossil fuel reserves of oil, gas, and coal producers exposes financial institutions that invest in and lend to these companies to significant financial risks (http://bit.ly/1dQiUQR). Banks that finance carbon-intensive electric utilities also face risks from future regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and the declining costs of renewable power relative to coal.
Bank of America has emphasized the reputational risks it faces from the climate impacts of its financing activities. In its 2012 response to the Carbon Disclosure Project, the bank states: “As societal concern about climate change has grown, there has become an increasing awareness among a range of stakeholders of the role the financial services sector can and should have in promoting climate change mitigation through its financing activities…Some of our clients will necessarily be in carbon intensive industries, and reputational risk could arise if we are not developing the appropriate balance of carbon and low-carbon reliant customers or sources of energy in our business mix.”
Bank of America currently reports an estimate of its overall exposure to carbon emissions from its financing relationships with electric utilities. This reporting, though welcome, does not address emissions from the bank’s clients in other industries. These existing disclosures also do not provide shareholders with a detailed and comprehensive assessment of the bank’s exposure to financial and reputational risks from relationships with clients in carbon-intensive industries.
Given the broader societal implications of climate change, shareowners request that the Board of Directors report to shareholders by September 2014, at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information, Bank of America’s assessment of the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from its financing portfolio and its exposure to climate change risk in its lending, investing, and financing activities.