Cutbacks in construction lending contributed to a drop in home building during the Great Recession. Environmentalist hope that a recent announcement by Bank of America heralds the start of a similar decrease in coal mining. Since the announcement, B of A’s stock has climbed nearly 80% more than the KBW Bank Index .
At its May 6, 2015 annual meeting, Bank of America rolled out its new Coal Policy vowing that it will cut back on its lending for coal mining. The policy states, “Bank of America recognizes that climate change poses a significant risk to our business, our clients, and the communities in which we operate. . . . the bank has a responsibility to help mitigate climate change by leveraging our scale and resources to accelerate the transition from a high-carbon to a low-carbon society, and from high-carbon to low-carbon sources of energy.”
“Bank of America has significantly reduced our exposure to coal extraction companies. Going forward, Bank of America will continue to reduce our credit exposure to coal extraction companies. This commitment applies globally, to companies focused on coal extraction and to divisions of diversified mining companies that are focused on coal.”
Addressing the environmentally destructive technique of Mountain Top Removal (MTR), the policy goes on “Bank of America will continue to reduce our exposure to coal mining companies that utilize MTR practices in Appalachia.”
Although specific lending reduction targets and schedules were not announced, B of A’s policy appears to go much further than coal policies announced by other banks to date. In 2014, Bank of America was the second largest bank in the U.S. and the eleventh largest in the world.
From May 6 to July 24, B of A’s stock price has risen by 9.88% which beats the 5.52% increase of the KBW Bank Index (BKX) of major U.S. banks and money centers during the same period by 79%. While, correlation is not causality, the increase in B of A’s stock value with respect to its peers since rolling out its coal policy seems encouraging. Its leadership in addressing the seriousness of climate change and in reducing lending for coal mining are clearly good news for nature.