17 August 2020
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank enjoys a lot of kudos for being one of Australia’s medium-sized banks that doesn’t invest in fossil fuels. Thousands of Australians have moved to Bendigo Bank as a result of its position on our banks comparison table.
Yet in the (nearly) five years since the signing of the Paris Agreement, the bank had failed to formally support the Agreement’s climate goals, casting doubt over its ability to understand and manage climate risk. Today that changed.
As part of the release of the bank’s full year results, Bendigo made the following Climate Change Policy Statement:
“Bendigo and Adelaide Bank recognises climate change has far-reaching risks for the environment, the economy, society, our customers and their communities. We support the Paris Agreement objectives and the required transition to a low carbon economy. We are committed to playing our part in this transition. We will work to build climate mitigation and adaption into our business and work to assist our customers and their communities to build climate resilience into their futures”.Bendigo and Adelaide Bank FY20 Results Presentation (p.53) and via its website
This is a positive and welcome step and brings Bendigo into line with Australia’s big four banks, which all publicly supported the Paris Agreement’s climate goals in late 2015.
Bendigo says that to meet the commitment within its Policy Statement, it has put in place a “three-year Climate Change Action Plan”. The bank says the Plan ‘commenced’ in June 2020, despite apparently only announcing the new climate change policy today.
Bendigo states the Action Plan involves taking the following steps:
Understand and manage the risks: We will optimise our climate change risk governance and risk management framework.
Be transparent: We will disclose our climate-related performanceBendigo and Adelaide Bank, Climate Change Action Plan
Given Bendigo Bank’s significant exposure to the agricultural sector and its commitment to risk management and transparency, shareholders should now reasonably expect the bank to publish scenario analysis on the impacts of climate change on the agricultural sector.
Bendigo claims it has already conducted this analysis but that it has not been made public. The bank’s failure to publish this information is contrary to the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).