Bank of America Rolls Back Restrictions on Financing for Coal, Arctic Oil and Gas

World’s fourth biggest fossil fuel funder weakens exclusions for highly destructive, risky projects

Ginny Roscamp, Deputy Press Secretary, Federal Communications, Sierra Club,, +1 415 508 8498 (Pacific Time)

NEW YORK — In its most recently updated Environmental and Social Risk Policy Framework, Bank of America has weakened its policy restrictions from over two years ago, which stated that it would not directly finance oil and gas projects in the Arctic, new or expanded coal-fired power plants, and new or expanded thermal coal mines. 

The new policy now states that such projects, among others, will go through “enhanced due diligence” and senior-level review, placing them under a new category of “business escalations”. The previous policy placed these types of projects under the category of “business restrictions” and stated that the bank was “unable to engage” in these activities. The policy document appears to have been updated quietly in recent weeks, with no discernable announcement from Bank of America, and was first reported publicly by the New York Times.

In response, Adele Shraiman, Senior Campaign Strategist for Sierra Club’s Fossil-Free Finance campaign said: 

“The flippancy with which Bank of America has walked back its commitment to end direct financing for the most dangerous fossil fuel sectors should alarm its clients, shareholders, regulators, and other stakeholders. Not only is Bank of America telling the world they can’t be trusted to maintain their own commitments, they are also signaling that they don’t understand the need to reduce climate risks. While other major banks uphold their policies to stop financing some of the dirtiest energy projects, Bank of America is going back on its word.”

In November 2020, Bank of America became the last of the six largest US banks to commit to not finance Arctic drilling projects, which was reflected in its policy update the following year, along with its commitment to not finance coal-fired power plants. Bank of America’s policy to not finance thermal coal mining projects dates back to 2015

The five other major US banks all have explicit policy restrictions on financing Arctic drilling, thermal coal mining, and coal-fired power projects. Many other global banks also have policy restrictions on financing for the oil and gas and coal sectors.

According to the Banking on Climate Chaos report, Bank of America has been the world’s fourth largest funder of fossil fuels since the Paris Agreement, providing over $279 billion to fossil fuels between 2016-2022, including to some of the riskiest and most destructive sectors, like oil drilling in the Amazon and liquified methane gas (LNG).

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