Two years ago, Bank of America won kudos from climate activists for saying they would no longer finance new coal mines, coal-burning power plants or Arctic drilling projects because of the toll they take on the environment. It seemed like one of the world’s biggest banks was finally starting to limit its support for and investments in fossil fuels.
But after right-wing reactionaries in the Republican Party screamed “woke capitalism” and threatened to punish the companies on the state and federal level, the banks have changed their tune.
Today, that language is gone from Bank of America’s updated policy. It continues to say that coal, a major contributor to global warming, faces “significant challenges” as the world steps up its efforts to address the climate crisis. It also continues to say that “the Arctic is a unique region with specific considerations to take into account including those of marine and wildlife, a fragile ecosystem and the rights of Indigenous Peoples.” But now they’re saying that clients or transactions or projects “that carry heightened risks will continue to go through an enhanced due diligence process involving senior level risk review.” How comforting. But all that really means is that, yes, they will once again finance fossil-fuel projects. J.P. Morgan Chase has also modified (backtracked on) its previous commitments to invest less in fossil-fuels.
Bank of America made $3.194 trillion off the backs of their employees and other working class and vulnerable populations last year. All of these people suffer climate change more directly than the wealthy, but Bank of America showed how much they care about these people by reversing their promise not to financially support coal or oil or other fossil fuel companies. In 2008, this bank conducted more foreclosures than any other, so it’s no surprise that the second largest bank on the planet wouldn’t care about those who struggle day to day.
Did the climate problem go away? No! It has only worsened. 2023 was the hottest year on record according to NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Scientists’ projections for 2024 are also dire. But CEOs of top banks like Bank of America barely notice the floods, fires, droughts and hurricanes from their gigantic mansions or multi-million dollar apartments, their sheltered lifestyles subsidized by the toil of people working at a wage that doesn’t buy them housing or healthcare.
Seems they sometimes almost talk the talk, but they never actually walk the walk. The big banks are still funders of climate catastrophe.