PSR Chides Bank of America on its Greenhouse Gas Loans
May 13, 2013
Last week I stood before the CEO and board of directors of Bank of America and told them: Your loans to the coal industry intensify climate change and threaten our health and lives.
I also delivered to them the letter signed by 2,817 PSR members, urging the Bank to phase out loans to the coal industry. Thank you to everyone who signed that letter! You helped deliver a very important message.
The venue was the annual meeting of Bank of America’s shareholders. I was there to support a shareholder resolution calling on the Bank to assess the carbon impacts of its loans and reduce loans – especially those to coal companies and coal-fired utilities – that contribute so severely to climate change.
BofA is the largest financier of the coal industry in the world. Their loans result in massive emissions of carbon dioxide, as well as health-endangering air pollution from conventional pollutants.
My statement spotlighted how rising global temperatures contribute to two serious threats to health. Ozone pollution, which forms when pollutants from coal plants and heat waves that scar lung tissue and can cause convulsions and death.
I was invited to the shareholder meeting by Rainforest Action Network, which brought others besides PSR to testify about the harm from coal:
- Women from southern Appalachia whose mountains have been leveled and whose waters have been poisoned by mountaintop removal;
- Activists from the Pacific Northwest opposing the proposed construction of massive coal export facilities to ship U.S. coal to China;
- University students who are organizing on their campuses to have their schools divest their coal-related investments;
- Others concerned that climate change is foreclosing our future.
Brian Moynihan, Bank of America's CEO, listened impassively. But as the morning wore on, he grew visibly uncomfortable with the steady stream of statements about the life-destroying impacts of coal.
While we didn’t get the resolution passed (no surprise there), we gave Mr. Moynihan and his board of directors a sense of the opposition and the liabilities Bank of America may face if it continues its coal lending.
And just for the record: No, I am not a shareholder in BofA. Someone who is, generously shared her voting proxy with me so I could enter the meeting and speak for PSR on the need to defend health -- and the future of the planet.
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