Home > After the hottest year on record, Bank of America backtracks on coal

After the hottest year on record, Bank of America backtracks on coal

24 April 2024

In October last year, Bank of America was the only major US bank to back Whitehaven Coal (along with up-and-comer investment bank Jefferies) by providing a $900 million dollar loan to Whitehaven for its acquisition of the Blackwater and Daunia mines.

Today is Bank of America’s annual general meeting, a major day for the bank. While the spotlight is on Bank of America, can you comment on one of these social media posts and tell the bank and its investors to walk away from this climate wrecking coal company?

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Don’t use social media? No problem! Use the form below to send an email to the Bank of America CEO instead.

You can write your own personal (and polite!) comment, or copy-paste the ones below. Please make sure you tag @BankofAmerica.

  • @BankofAmerica please rule out any more funding for Whitehaven Coal and other companies expanding the fossil fuel industry!
  • You say you’re committed to the Net Zero Banking Alliance @BankofAmerica, then how do you explain financing Whitehaven Coal, a company expanding coal production and without a credible transition plan? 
  • @BankofAmerica any finance for Whitehaven Coal while it is expanding the coal industry undermines your climate commitments. 
  • Lending to Whitehaven Coal is a risk to @BankofAmerica’s reputation, but most importantly to our climate.
  • @BankofAmerica don’t be a climate laggard, be a climate leader! End finance for companies, like Whitehaven, that are ramping up coal production now!

This deal to fund Whitehaven stunned movement partners Rainforest Action Network and Sierra Club in the US who have been campaigning on the bank for years.

At the time, the deal violated the spirit of the bank’s environmental policy (released in September 2023). The bank’s policy read:

“By 2025, we will phase out all financing (including facilitating capital markets transactions and advising on mergers and acquisitions) of companies deriving ≥ 25% of their revenue from thermal coal mining.”

In 2023, Whitehaven derived 94% of its revenue from the sale of thermal coal. While not technically a policy violation, it is hugely concerning that Bank of America would acknowledge the risk involved lending to thermal coal miners, set policy to limit their exposure to these companies, and then exploit a loophole to squeeze every cent from the coal industry while it still can.

While Jefferies has no fossil fuel exclusion policy at all, Bank of America still chose to finance a company that would not meet its own eligibility criteria in 2025 based on its environmental policy at the time. Since then the company has since watered down its policy, updating it again only 3 months later in December. Now Bank of America’s policy ranks the worst, out of some of the biggest fossil fuel financiers in the world:

(Source: Coal Policy Tracker)

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TOOK ACTION: Bank of America and Whitehaven Coal email action – Apr 2024

Bank of America has truly set itself apart from the other “big six” US Banks in the worst way by participating in this deal that its peers wouldn’t touch.

While we’ve watched this major US bank walk back from its climate commitments, the good news is that the big four Australian banks are strengthening theirs. In 2023, Westpac was the first Australian bank to introduce an exclusion for funding new metallurgical coal projects and NAB and Commonwealth Bank will now require metallurgical coal miners to have a Paris-aligned transition plan from 2025 onwards.

With Whitehaven planning to spend $4.5 billion this decade on its massive pipeline of new coal projects, we need to do everything we can to make sure Bank of America cuts ties with this dirty coal company once and for all.

In July last year, after community pressure, we saw Whitehaven’s previous corporate loan collapse, ending decades-long banking relationships with NAB and other banks.

Let’s make sure that Bank of America and Whitehaven’s relationship goes no further – please send an urgent message to the bank today!