Although major banks try hard to brand themselves as "green," they are taking yet another step in the opposite direction.
Bank of America is acting as a merchant broker for a $1 billion sale of shares in Coal India Limited, the world's largest coal miner, reports Rainforest Action Network and Greenpeace.
Other "greenies" are also involved in the share sale: Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank.
In addition to coal mining and it's obvious climate implications (which the Bank has promised to consider when financing as a signer to the Equator Principles), Coal India is known for human and environmental abuses.
"Coal India has a record of forcibly displacing tribal and farming communities, ravaging tiger and elephant forests and turning a blind eye to instances of child labor and corruption," says Ashish Ferndandes, US-India Advisor with Greenpeace. "We have pointed out these issues to Bank of America on several occasions over the past year and been assured that the bank is looking into them. To have the Bank persist with its partnership with Coal India leaves one with the impression that ‘sustainability' is just a fancy word to CEO Brian Moynihan and his team."
Recently, major lending institutions the World Bank and US Ex-Im Bank they would severely restrict lending for coal. But although the major banks like to sign onto commitments such as NYC's Carbon Challenge - to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40% over the next 10 years - they continue to be the world's major coal financiers.
Goldman Sachs is financing SolarCity's biggest investment fund yet, contributing $500 million. Its goal is to finance $40 billion in renewable energy over the next 10 years as part of its commitment to reduce carbon emissions to zero. That's great, but its needs to count financing for coal when it adds those emissions up. Same is true for Bank of America and others who make the same claims.