Along with the increasing shifts towards sustainability, we’ve also noticed more implementation of green technology. We’re fast becoming a brave new green world, and the sooner companies embrace this the better off we’ll all be. The article below is from the New York Times.
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Banks Look to Burnish Their Images by Backing Green Technology Firms
By NELSON D. SCHWARTZ
Published: June 10, 2012
Call it the greening of Wall Street.
In the wake of a $30 billion commitment to new environmental investments by Wells Fargo in April and a $40 billion promise from Goldman Sachs this month, Bank of America will announce a 10-year, $50 billion initiative of its own on Monday.
Facing bad publicity on practically every front, the big banks are highlighting what has quietly become a hot growth area in recent years — backing projects and companies in sectors like renewable energy, emissions reduction and reduced-carbon transportation.
Bank of America officials said the initiative encompassed steps including underwriting initial public offerings for so-called green companies, making loans to consumers who buy hybrid vehicles and helping developers to retrofit old factories as well as investing in renewable energy.
In addition, the bank is promising to make specific reductions in its own consumption of energy, paper and water. By 2015, Bank of America’s goal is to reduce energy consumption by 25 percent from 2004 levels, along with a 20 percent reduction in paper and water use from 2010 levels. The company is also pledging $100 million in grants and low-interest loans as part of the program.
Environmental advocates said the timing of the announcement was not coincidental.
The financial services industry is looking for ways to burnish its image, but Bank of America in particular has been criticized for lending to the coal industry, with activists calling attention to the issue at its annual meeting in April. What is more, the public promises by the banks cover activities they would probably undertake otherwise as part of their ordinary lending and capital-raising business.
Bank of America’s announcement comes nine days before a United Nations meeting in Rio de Janeiro on the environment and sustainable development. Bank of America’s chairman, Charles O. Holliday Jr., plans to attend the conference and is co-chairman of a United Nations panel on sustainable energy.
“We’re glad to be able to share it in Rio, but we timed this to when we were ready,” said Catherine P. Bessant, who heads global technology and operations for Bank of America. The bank announced a 10-year, $20 billion initiative in 2007 and will hit that goal by the end of 2012, Ms. Bessant said.
“The market is really vibrant, with lots of transaction potential,” she said. “If no one ever wrote about it, we’d be doing it anyway. It is absolutely core to the success of the company.”
There is a new hunger for capital among green companies, as well as new interest on the part of investors. At the same time, new regulations are requiring companies to raise money and invest in new technologies that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. In addition, the banks are capitalizing on federal tax credits being offered to encourage investment in renewable energy.