Bank of America says its long-standing $125bn in environmental commitments has turned into a good business for the bank.
The commitment dates back to 2007 and has been updated since, whereby it aims to provide $125bn in capital to develop solutions to climate change and other environmental challenges.
This effort has been fruitful for the bank, said Vice Chairman Anne Finucane.
Speaking at the European Financial Forum in Dublin, Finucane, who also chairs Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Europe and heads up its ESG efforts, said the commitments “have turned out to be a good business for us” citing various projects it has been involved in such as wind farms in the North Sea. “These things are a reality,” she said. The bank is the world’s largest underwiter of green bonds, she added.
She also oversees the company’s outreach to investors and said “ESG comes up in EVERY meeting”.
Also speaking at the event was John Berrigan, Deputy Director-General at DG FISMA, the European Commission department overseeing the European Action plan on Sustainable Finance.He said he thought the sustainable finance taxonomy that is currently under development was “perhaps the most important piece” of the EU work in this area — though he said he had been in the US recently where it had been called “socialism on steroids”. He made it clear that it was not as if the EU was going to be telling investors how to invest: “I’m not going to be there pulling levers.”
“Socialism on steroids”
Sustainability was much on the lips of speakers, with Central Bank of Ireland Governor Philip Lane, who’s shortly to join the European Central Bank as Chief Economist, calling climate change a “deep strucutural issue” and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaking of the challenge of decarbonisation. But the event was dominanted by Brexit and the challenges to the finance sector.
Perhaps it was Carl Tannenbaum, Chief Economist at Northern Trust, who summed it up best. To laughter, he quoted an expert in the field saying “It’s not easy being green.” The expert turned out to be none other than Kermit the Frog, from the Muppets!