Bank of America dedicated a huge chunk of change today to green initiatives. It may just be the biggest green project of any corporation in history.
No doubt this is fantastic for the planet. But it may take a few years to tell whether this is as good for the planet as it is for the bank's reputation. For example, Yale law professor Daniel Esty said that last year Virgin's Richard Branson pledged $3 billion to combat global warming over a decade. But Branson only earmarked profits from his air and rail businesses, which don't always turn a profit.
Suspicion aside, it's crucial for corporations to get recognition for good work. Otherwise they won't do it. They'll behave according to the adage, "no good deed goes unpunished." Most of $20 billion will go to cut-rate rate loans for green business and green real estate. But the bank pledged to donate $100 million outright for conservation and to LEED certify all bank buildings. So give it up for the bank! Let's hope others follow suit.
The manifesto on cooperation between corporations and environmentalists is Natural Capitalism, an inspiring read. When is "corporate responsibility" just hype? Read about British Petroleum and Interface carpet company in our November issue.