NEW YORK Bank of America Corp, the
second-largest U.S. bank, is creating an environmental banking
group focused on finding and financing ways to promote
conservation and reduce global warming, Chief Executive Kenneth
Lewis said on Tuesday.
Lewis also called on Congress to create a cap-and-trade
framework to limit carbon dioxide emissions and allow the
trading of allowances, favoring clear federal standards and a
market-based mechanism to set emission values.
Presidential candidates Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and
John McCain all support a cap-and-trade system that would allow
large polluters such as oil companies and power producers to
trade emission credits with companies that pollute less.
In prepared comments to the North Carolina Emerging Issues
Forum in Raleigh, North Carolina, Lewis said the environmental
group will be led by Richard Cohen, a managing director in
strategic investments and head of environmental strategic
investments, and begin operations in the coming months.
Last March, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America
said it will commit $20 billion over 10 years to support growth
in environmentally-friendly activities and to reduce global
"Our $20 billion initiative isn't charity by any stretch.
We expect an attractive risk-adjusted return on this capital,"
Lewis said in his speech.
"Bank of America is involved in financing the green economy
for a lot of good reasons," he added. "It represents the
future, and a tremendous business opportunity. We believe it's
what our customers and clients need us to do to support them."
Lewis said Bank of America has, like other banks, decided
to assess the cost of carbon in risk and underwriting processes
in evaluating business models of utility companies.
He also said the bank is looking at participating in
"large-scale leasing" of residential solar panels to
homeowners, especially if federal incentives for their use were
adopted, but hasn't "found the right way to participate."
Bank of America plans next year to open what it calls the
"world's greenest skyscraper" just east of New York's Times
Square, and is developing a green office tower in Charlotte.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)