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Media Release

Big four Australian banks face shareholder climate backlash at AGMs

11 October 2022


Tuesday 11 October 2022: Shareholder resolutions have been lodged with ANZ, NAB and Westpac calling on the banks to stop financing coal, oil and gas expansion. 

The resolutions, lodged by hundreds of shareholders and coordinated by environmental finance organisation Market Forces, follow one that will go to a vote at Commonwealth Bank’s 12 October AGM calling for the banks to disclose information demonstrating how their financing will not be used for the purposes of new or expanded fossil fuel projects.

Leading ethical investment firm Australian Ethical co-filed the NAB and Westpac resolutions, along with Market Forces and more than 100 shareholders.

The resolutions come after revelations Australia’s big four banks, ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac, recently co-financed a $1.4 billion dollar deal to major Australian oil and gas expander, Santos, related to its Barossa gas project. ANZ and Westpac lent $1.2 billion to Woodside, which is developing the huge Scarborough gas project.

Will van de Pol, Asset Management Campaigner, Market Forces said:

“Despite committing to support the Paris Agreement and net zero emissions by 2050, all of Australia’s big four banks are still financing companies with coal, oil and gas expansion plans that undermine those climate goals.”

“The science is clear that we cannot develop new coal mines or oil and gas fields, yet Australia’s major banks are lending to companies doing just that, including Woodside, Santos, Whitehaven Coal and Glencore.”

“It’s unacceptable to a growing number of retail shareholders and institutional investors that Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, NAB and Westpac are exposing themselves to heightened risk by financing companies that are worsening the climate crisis.” 

All three banks have ruled out providing project finance to new thermal coal projects, yet NAB and Westpac are still exposed to Whitehaven Coal, whose plans to build three new or expanded coal mines are incompatible with the Paris Agreement and net zero by 2050.

ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, and NAB are financing mega coal mining company, Glencore, which plans to develop a major new ‘greenfield’ coal mine, Valeria in central Queensland.

Despite Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Westpac announcing some restrictions on direct financing for new oil and gas fields, and ANZ promising to produce targets for the sector later this year, all four banks are undermining these announcements by financing companies developing new oil and gas fields.

An investor briefing can be found here: 2022 Investor Briefing – Australian Banks Shareholder proposals  

Resolutions and supporting statements can be found here: ANZ, NAB, Westpac, CBA

Market Forces Asset Management Campaigner Will van de Pol, additional spokespeople and CBA shareholders who are backing the resolution are also available for comment on Wednesday 12 October on the day of the Commonwealth Bank Annual General Meeting.

Australian Ethical is available for interviews regarding the NAB and Westpac resolutions.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Antony Balmain, +61-423-253-477, [email protected]
Will van de Pol, Asset Management Campaigner, Market Forces, +61-431-865-135, [email protected]