Bank of America will donate $20 billion for lending, advice and market creation to help commercial clients finance the use and production of new products, services and technologies. The bank also will launch the capability to trade carbon emissions credits, a move designed to enable clients to achieve carbon emission neutrality through existing and emerging market -mechanisms.

Carbon trading, which assigns a dollar value to carbon dioxide emissions, already is underway in Europe under the Kyoto protocol to curb global growth in greenhouse gases. In carbon trading, companies trade credits that give them permission to emit a set amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, effectively giving them the potential to gain financially when they reduce air pollution. Similar programs are developing in states such as California.

Bank of America’s effort is a result of a recent corporate push behind green efforts from the likes of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., General Electric Co. and BP.

Bank of America also is offering an eco-friendly credit card. For every dollar spent, the bank will make a contribution to an environmental organization to invest in greenhouse-gas reduction projects. Similar programs will be set up under its WorldPoint Rewards for existing cardholders and payments on home-equity loans. Under a new green mortgage program, homebuyers will receive a reduced interest rate or $1,000 back for each home purchase mortgage that meets Energy Star specifications.

This is good news for consumers who wish to convert to energy-efficient and environmentally friendly practices, and it is good news to the contractors that will install and service those systems.

In addition, Bank of America will commit $1.4 billion to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification in all new construction facilities and banking centers, including a New York City skyscraper expected to open late in 2008.  EC