Published 3 years ago.
About a 6 minute read.
Image: Lovely Shots/Unsplash
A 1% for the Planet account from Bank of the West, and new actions from Morgan Stanley and BlackRock, could signal turning point in big finance.
Image credit: Bud Helisson/Unsplash
Stanley announced it
will become the “first US-based global bank to join the Partnership for Carbon
Accounting Financials (PCAF) and its
Steering Committee as part of the firm’s commitment to measuring and disclosing
its approach to climate change risk and opportunity.” In addition, Morgan
Stanley will lend insights and expertise to help PCAF develop the global
accounting standard that can be used by all financial institutions to measure
and reduce their climate impact. PCAF includes financial institutions from
around the world and represent more than US$5.3 trillion in assets.
Shareholder advocacy group As You Sow filed this 2020 shareholder
Morgan Stanley, which was withdrawn earlier this year after reaching an
agreement in which the banking giant agreed to evaluate emissions measurement
methodologies such as PCAF.
“Morgan Stanley is taking a critical step by committing to disclose its financed
emissions,” said Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow. “For too long,
the big banks in the US have denied responsibility and delayed action on
addressing their emissions because calculating them was deemed too complex.
Morgan Stanley’s commitment shows that banks can and must do this work to reduce
the risk that the climate crisis poses to banks and to the entire economy. This
is work that cannot wait.”
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As You Sow says it reached similar agreements with Wells Fargo, Goldman
Sachs, and Bank of
— all three recently joined the Rocky Mountain Institute’s new Center for
Climate-Aligned Finance. JPMorgan also joined
after As You Sow’s 2020 shareholder
received a majority vote. Big banks are under growing
as investors are increasingly concerned about imminent impacts of the climate
crisis and their rippling effects on the global economy.
Image credit: Bank of the West
One financial institution that doesn't need any pressure on this front is Bank of the
West, which today launched its first checking account designed for climate action, with
1% for the Planet. Through the
partnership, Bank of the West will donate 1% of net revenues generated from
the account to support environmental non-profit organizations focused on
creating a healthier planet. The first recipient of any funds generated by
the initiative will be Protect Our
Winters — a nonprofit founded by
professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones that bands together outdoor
athletes, creatives and business leaders to work toward a carbon-neutral
"When you talk about climate change, people are often at a loss as to what
they can do personally to effect change," said Ben Stuart, Chief
Marketing Officer at Bank of the West. "The 1% for the Planet Account allows
consumers not only to bank with a group that is progressive on energy
policy and is striving to meet
the demands of the Paris Accord, but also that donates 1% of the account's
revenue to address climate change at no cost to the consumer."
Key features of the 1% for the Planet
A carbon-tracking tool allows customers to view the carbon impact of every
purchase made with the 1% for the Planet debit card — thanks to Bank of the
West’s partnership with
creator of the DO
that lets users track, understand and reduce their CO2 footprints through
A debit card made from 100% biodegradable/compostable plastic;
No monthly service charge with one qualifying deposit per statement; and
Bank of the West will donate 1% of revenue from the account to environmental
nonprofit partners of 1% for the Planet, starting with Protect Our Winters,
at no cost to the customer.
Image credit: Daniel Páscoa/Unsplash
Meanwhile, last week, BlackRock revealed that it as put over 200 companies on notice for
their failure to live up to its standards on climate action.
In a client report outlining how it is ramping up its climate-related
engagements with businesses this year, BlackRock
said that it
has called out 244 companies — including energy companies Chevron,
ExxonMobil, Peabody Energy and Fordum; and carmakers Daimler and
Volvo — for insufficient progress on climate issues. BlackRock voted at the
shareholder meetings of 53 of those companies (mostly through voting out
existing directors) that were found to have repeatedly ignored the
climate-related demands of investors; and the remaining companies have been put
“on watch,” meaning they will face voting action in 2021 if improvements are not
Interestingly, BlackRock also has a history of voting against climate-related
shareholder resolutions. But the world’s largest asset manager appears to have
changed its tune BlackRock notably changed its investment stewardship targets
and processes earlier this year, after joining Climate Action
(after voting against several of the coalition’s shareholder resolutions in the
earlier this year.
BlackRock CEO Larry Fink has long been
the need for social and environmental responsibility on the part of the
corporate world; but climate
activists, investors, legislators and thought
been just as vocal about BlackRock’s continued unwillingness to put its money
where Fink’s mouth is on these issues — as of earlier this year, BlackRock
remained the largest investor in fossil fuels and the companies driving
deforestation around the world.
But in January, Fink put out a call for a “fundamental reshaping of
in response to the climate crisis; and by holding these companies to account,
maybe it’s a sign that BlackRock is ready to begin
walking its own talk. According to the report, BlackRock engaged companies in
its portfolio in environmental discussions almost four times more between June
2019 and June 2020 as it did the year prior; and engagement on social issues has
risen by 146 percent year-on-year.
BlackRock is also urging the called-out companies to comply with the Task Force
on Climate-Related Disclosures’ (TCFD)
and to produce their sustainability reports in line with SASB standards. The
report says BlackRock will continue to review its process engaging and voting on
climate risk and other sustainability-related issues.
Published Jul 20, 2020 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST