Alex Liftman, Bank of America: committed to achieving 100% renewable electricity

Reading time: 5 minutes
14 October 2016

Bank of America has set a goal of becoming carbon neutral and purchasing 100% renewable electricity by 2020. Here, Alex Liftman, Global Environmental Executive, shares the drivers for action.

Why is Bank of America committed to achieving 100% renewable electricity?

"Our commitment to utilizing 100% renewable electricity in our operations is part of our company’s broader approach to environmental sustainability. The financial services sector has a responsibility to accelerate the transition to a sustainable and low-carbon economy. We are providing our intellectual and financial capital to help develop solutions to climate change and other environmental challenges, and we are reducing our own operational impact through aggressive greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reduction targets – and renewable electricity is an important component of our plan to achieve these targets.

"Additionally, we are committed to environmental initiatives that contribute positively to our communities and create opportunity for our customers, clients and employees. Our environmental strategy and efforts not only promote a greener global economy; they give us a strategic advantage in our industry and help us deliver long-term value.”

How did you decide on your 2020 environmental operational goals? 

"We recognize our responsibility to take bold action to address climate change  – and it starts with us in our own operations. We believe establishing strong operations goals is an important demonstration of our commitment to environmental stewardship. While we worked diligently through 2015 to achieve – and sometimes exceed – many of our already established environmental operations goals, there is still work to be done. We collaborated with internal and external partners to identify the best ways to reduce our environmental impacts, and develop our new 2020 goals – including our commitment to purchase 100% renewable electricity. Establishing our 100% goal required a deep review of historical GHG emissions reduction performance, looking at projections for future GHG emissions, reviewing peer activity and considering a variety of methodologies against which to set our target.

"Our goals include reducing location-based GHG emissions by 50%, achieving carbon neutrality for Scope 1 and 2 emissions, and using 100% renewable electricity by 2020. We evaluated the 50% GHG goal and the carbon neutrality goal using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommendations, the Sectoral Decarbonization Approach and the 3% Solution methodology. Both ofour goals are more aggressive than all three of these science-based target setting methodologies."

What have been your achievements so far?

"In 2005, we set a 9% absolute emissions reduction goal for 2004 to 2009 for our US operations, and we met this goal two times over, achieving an 18% reduction. In 2011, we expanded this by setting a new goal to reduce our emissions by 15% from 2010 to 2015 across our global operations in more than 35 countries. We beat this once again by achieving a 37% reduction. Because the majority of our GHG emissions are from electricity, renewable electricity will now play a significant role in our approach to carbon neutrality."

What challenges and opportunities is the company experiencing as it works toward the 100% goal? 

"We have installed solar PV already in some locations. We will continue to review a range of options, including onsite generation, renewable energy credits (RECs) and other innovative solutions in an effort to reach our 100% renewable electricity goal."

What is the bank doing now to transition its operations to renewable energy and what does the future hold? 

"We plan to pursue several renewable electricity purchasing mechanisms, including sourcing local renewable electricity. One example is in Texas, where we recently purchased wind RECs to power 100% of our Texas data centers. This represents nearly half of our statewide electricity purchases and will contribute five percentage points toward the 2020 carbon neutral goal. From now until 2020, we will continue to identify opportunities such as this one to integrate renewable electricity into our purchasing strategy."

Why is it important for companies to increase demand for renewable electricity?

"We believe addressing climate change will require a collective effort. We need to mobilize our resources and find solutions while leveraging more green business opportunities. At Bank of America, this means embracing these efforts throughout our business as we strive toward a more sustainable and low-carbon world. As part of our effort to be a leader in clean energy investment, we’ve committed to US$125 billion in financing for low-carbon and sustainable business by 2025."

Since 2007, we have directed $53 billion into sustainable and low-carbon projects connected to clean energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable transportation
Alex Liftman, Global Environmental Executive, BoA

We are also working hard to continue the robust expansion of the green bond market, which is designed to increase investments in projects with environmental benefits like incorporating solar energy into a company’s operations or making buildings more energy efficient.”

Why do you think RE100 is a good initiative to join?

“We recognize achieving our goals will require innovation and partnership. Supporting the market for renewable electricity is one step toward achieving those goals;  by making a public commitment to purchasing 100% renewable electricity by 2020 we are demonstrating our commitment to a low-carbon and sustainable economy. Also, by joining forces with other global sustainability leaders, we will have a much greater impact than we would if we approached it individually. Climate change is an issue that faces us all, in every industry, in every part of the world. We are committed to doing our part to protect our planet for our generation and generations to come.”

What else are you doing to help drive a low-carbon economy?

“Achieving environmental results requires a multifaceted approach. We focus our environmental strategy in four areas: Business; Partnership; Operations and Employees.

“On the business side we have our $125 billion environmental business initiative, which encompasses many climate finance initiatives, including our Catalytic Finance Initiative and green bond efforts. We also partner with key organizations focused on the environment. We were one of the original 13 signatories of the White House’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge event, standing alongside other leading corporations in committing to strong action to address climate change.

“We’ve talked of the value of our operational goals, which builds even further on our broader initiatives to address climate change and demands on natural resources, but you should know our employees are contributing, too. Our My Environment employee program, which has nearly 20,000 global members, has logged more than 225,000 volunteer hours since 2010. Volunteer events included coastal clean up’s, environmental education and many more environmentally focused activities.

“So whether it is leveraging our financial industry expertise in our business or rethinking how we operate our buildings, we know our clients, customers and employees are extremely well informed participants in a changing world, and that they expect Bank of America to conduct itself in a manner that is responsible and sustainable, in every way.”

by Marie Reynolds

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