Bendigo & Adelaide customers in drought, bank still won’t spell it out

30 October 2016

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank is the fifth largest retail bank in Australia and among the top 100 ASX-listed companies. They have a fairly clean record when it comes to fossil fuel investments as they don’t lend to projects in the coal and coal seam gas sectors.

But when it comes to disclosing the risks associated with climate change, Bendigo’s record is not so great. They’ve provided very little in the way of disclosure, with Market Forces’ Investing in the Dark research showing them lagging behind the Big 4 – not a single tick on the company scorecard.

Paris agreement

It’s not even clear where they stand on climate science or the Paris agreement that has been ratified by 179 countries. This was highlighted at their annual general meeting (AGM) today when one shareholder asked whether they support the Paris goal to limit global warming to 2ºC.

Chair Robert Johanson failed to adequately address the question, his response as vague as Bendigo’s company reports: “We’ve been involved with and committed to reducing our environmental footprint for a very long time… So yeah, we’re committed to all that.”

Disclosing climate change risks

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank have a strong focus on regional Australia with both community-building and agribusiness, and pride themselves on the accolade of being one of the most trusted banks in the nation. And with many of these communities currently affected by drought, the board faced questions from several shareholders raising concerns about these impacts – including how it affects the company’s bottom line.

The prevalence of drought, bushfires and floods are only going to worsen as our climate grows warmer, and the impacts will be felt acutely by rural communities. So have Bendigo considered how this will impact their business in future?

Despite there being little or no evidence in their mainstream reports, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank’s auditor today seemingly affirmed that they do consider the material risks associated with climate change.

“Climate change is a risk factor… predominantly in relation to the credit loses… Factors such as credit [and] other components, into the future will certainly become more and more prevalent. But yes, it is a risk factor that we do consider.”

If the company’s auditor and board are prepared to tell shareholders this at the AGM, what’s stopping Bendigo and Adelaide Bank from making the effort to publicly disclose climate change related risks and set targets to manage these risks?

Take action!

Is your super fund invested in Bendigo and Adelaide Bank? Tell your fund to hold companies to account if they’re not disclosing how they manage the risks climate change poses to your retirement savings!