ANZ climate change policy leaves open the door for real leadership

Market Forces is reacting to news this morning of a new set of commitments on ANZ regarding climate change and coal investments.
“When it comes to leadership on climate change, the podium remains empty, and in desperate need of a bank to step up”, said Market Forces Lead Campaigner Julien Vincent
“The announcements made today by ANZ on climate change are almost satirical in their ineffectiveness, actually creating space for the bank to worsen its climate footprint over time. We urgerntly need to see leadership from the finance sector in driving our economy to a low-carbon footing – ANZ has just declared itself out of the leadership race”.

ANZ’s new climate change “commitments” will allow the bank to:

  • Continue lending to new coal-fired power stations that have the worst emissions intensity of the latest coal power technology, potentially raising the average emissions intensity of the power stations it finances (currently stated by ANZ as 0.69 tonnes of CO2 per Megawatt hour).
  • Lend to new and existing coal mines anywhere around the world, including the mega coal mines proposed by Adani in the Galilee Basin, which they have repeatedly failed to rule out.
  • Remain invested in any current coal fired power station provided there is a plan (the nature of which is not defined) in place for how emissions would fall beyond the lifetime of the power plant.
While the commitment to finance $10 billion of emission reductions efforts by customers over five years is welcome, when this is put in perspective of a global renewable energy industry that has attracted over US$1 trillion of investment over the same time span, it’s fair to expect that most banks would lend this sort of money to emissions-reducing efforts as a matter of routine.
“At the heart of any strong climate change policy is a commitment to operate in a way that is, at the very least, consistent with keeping global warming to less than the internationally agreed two degree limit. From there, the bank can take the steps that will get itself, and the broader economy on a low-carbon footing.
“It is clear that if we are going to contain global warming to within manageable limits, we have just about burned our last lump of acceptable coal, and that the vast majority of fossil fuel reserves need to be kept in the ground.”
“The transition in energy generation needs to be swift, and the challenge is daunting, but the opportunities for investment, economic growth and job creation are immense. We can either choose to take this challenge on, or end up spending more money cleaning up after the damage that runaway climate change will bring.”
ANZ is Australia’s biggest lender to the fossil fuel industry, having loaned $12.6 billion to coal, oil and gas projects since 2008. For every dollar the bank lends to renewable energy, it lends another $6 to fossil fuels. ANZ was involved in more than half of the deals to fossil fuel projects in Australia since 2008, making it not just the biggest, but also most prevalent lender to coal, oil and gas.