One of the world’s largest financial institutions has set a target of investing $50 billion over ten years in environmental projects.

Bank of America’s new environmental business initiative will start in January 2013 and follows on from its current ten-year, $20 billion programme that it has completed more than four years ahead of schedule.

The new programme of investment will help to address climate change, reduce demands on natural resources and advance low-carbon economic solutions, says the bank, which has also made a pledge to reduce the environmental impact of its own business operations.

“Environmental business delivers value to our clients, return for our shareholders, and helps strengthen the economy,” said Bank of America Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan. “We met our prior goal in about half the time we set for ourselves, so more than doubling our target is ambitious but achievable.”

The new environmental business initiative will consist primarily of lending, equipment finance, capital markets and advisory activity, carbon finance, and advice and investment solutions for clients. The bank has also announced a goal to provide $100 million in grants and programme-related investments to non-profit organizations.

“Many of our clients are transitioning to more environmentally conscious business practices, products and services,” said Cathy Bessant, Global Technology and Operations executive and chair of Bank of America’s Environmental Council. “We can continue to grow our business, promote a greener global economy and address climate change by helping our clients meet their own sustainability objectives.”

According to Bank of America, it was one of the first financial institutions to launch a formal environmentally-focussed investment programme. So far its investments have included $8.4 billion for energy efficiency financing initiatives, $5 billion of renewable energy financing and nearly $1 billion for consumer financing of hybrid vehicle purchases.

The banks’ new operational goals include a 25 per cent reduction in energy consumption over 2004 levels and a 20 per cent reduction over 2010 levels in both water and paper consumption.