Bank Watch

Bank of America CEO on climate change: ‘We believe in the science’

In this file photo, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan talks with this Observer during a December 2015 interview.
In this file photo, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan talks with this Observer during a December 2015 interview. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Bank of America chief executive Brian Moynihan said in a public television interview this week that climate change exists and is a threat the Charlotte-based company continues working to combat.

“We believe in the science at Bank of America,” Moynihan told PBS’s Charlie Rose in a segment broadcast Thursday, according to a transcript. “We believe we have to get off fossil fuels.”

Rose brought up the politically thorny issue in the wide-ranging interview, noting that Republican President-elect Donald Trump has sent mixed signals on the topic.

Trump, who in 2012 accused the Chinese of manufacturing the concept of global warming, signaled he might be moderating his views by meeting Monday with former Vice President Al Gore to discuss climate change. Trump later disappointed environmental activists by confirming Thursday plans to nominate Oklahoma’s attorney general, a global warming skeptic, to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Mr. Trump is really harder for us to figure out,” Moynihan said.

Moynihan cited Bank of America’s actions to address climate change, such as a $125 billion program to finance low-carbon initiatives, as well as occupying buildings certified as environmentally friendly.

Bank of America will “continue to drive” its environmental program, Moynihan said, noting it stretches back to retired Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl Jr.

“We don’t change how we run Bank of America through election cycles,” Moynihan said.

Bank of America has drawn criticism over the years from environmental activists upset over its financing of coal and other energy projects. For example, in November 2015 protesters rappelled down Bank of America Stadium during a Carolina Panthers game to protest the bank’s financing of a company building a natural gas facility in Maryland.

But the bank has also won praise for recent steps to change its practices.

Last year, it was commended by Rainforest Action Network, which has referred to Bank of America as the “Bank of Coal,” for committing to reduce its financial involvement in coal mining companies.

Deon Roberts: 704-358-5248, @DeonERoberts

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