Bank of America appears to be backtracking on its late 2021 pledge to cease financing new coal and Arctic initiatives, based on company documents.

Bank of America had committed to terminate its direct funding of coal mines, coal-fired power plants and arctic drilling, according to its December 2021 “Environmental and Social Risk Policy Framework.” However, its December 2023 revised version updates the bank’s pledge to exercise “due diligence” with these initiatives rather than an outright refusal to finance, as first reported by The New York Times on Saturday.

The 2021 policy committed to not directly fund “new thermal coal mines or the expansion of existing mines,” “construction or expansion of new coal-fired power plants,” or “petroleum exploration or production activities in the Arctic.”

Conservatives have pushed back against corporate environmental policies, including nonprofit Consumers’ Research targeting Bank of America for promoting environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies in a 2023 ad campaign. Investment funds focused on ESG goals lost $2.7 billion and closed faster than they opened during the third quarter of 2023, according to Morningstar.

Removing these commitments “sends a very bad signal,” Lucie Pinson, director of Reclaim Finance, a nonprofit focused on financial climate impact, told the NYT. “Bank of America is sending a message to its clients that it’s OK to take up new fossil-fuel assets.”

Clients or transactions “that carry heightened risks will continue to go through an enhanced due diligence process involving senior level risk review,” Bank of America told the NYT.

Bank of America did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

Jason Cohen on February 3, 2024

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