Tuesday 30 May: A new report by Market Forces reveals Australia’s big four banks have used smoke and mirrors to continue pouring billions of dollars into fossil fuel expansion.
The report – Banking Climate Failure – finds ANZ, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, NAB and Westpac provided a total of $7.6 billion to projects and companies expanding the scale of the coal, oil and gas industries over the past two years, despite claiming to support the climate goals of the Paris Agreement and net zero emissions by 2050.
Australia’s biggest banks have provided $57.5 billion in finance to fossil fuel companies in the seven years since the global Paris Agreement came into force to limit climate change.
Will van de Pol, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Market Forces said:
“Customers are worried their banks are hiding behind a smokescreen, claiming to be committed to net zero by 2050 while funding new fossil fuel developments that would lock in decades of emissions.”
“ANZ, CommBank, NAB and Westpac need to come clean with millions of customers who expect more than smoke and mirrors on climate action.”
Despite claims of reducing finance for fossil fuel projects, the banks increased their year-on-year lending by 15 per cent in 2022 to companies expanding the coal, oil and gas sector.
Collectively, the four major banks have poured over $13 billion into the fossil fuel industry between January 2021 and December 2022.
The analysis spotlights the big four’s funding for three Australian companies with some of the biggest plans for new fossil fuel projects: Santos, Woodside Energy and Whitehaven Coal.
The report concludes that if all 13 of Woodside, Santos, and Whitehaven Coal planned new fossil fuel projects all go ahead, this would result in 4.2 billion tonnes of additional carbon dioxide emissions, equivalent to more than nine times Australia’s emissions in 2021.
“The reckless fossil fuel expansion plans of some of their clients are completely incompatible with the climate goals Australia’s big banks claim to support,” said Mr van de Pol.
“The big four are making global warming worse by bankrolling climate wreckers like Santos, Woodside and Whitehaven Coal.”
Key findings on the big four banks:
The report found that ANZ loaned $4.6 billion to fossil fuels in the last two years, the most of any of the big four banks. More than half of this financing, $2.9 billion, went to the gas industry.
The report has deemed NAB to be “Australia’s most regressive bank” after it increased its lending to fossil fuels in the last two years to be almost on par with ANZ at $4.5 billion.
Despite a prolific history of lending to the fossil fuel industry, Commonwealth Bank has reined in fossil fuel lending to provide the least of the big four in the last two years, $1.6 billion.
However, the bank continues to lend to companies expanding fossil fuels, including Santos. The Commonwealth Bank will update its climate policy this year, and is being urged to become a true leader in the sector by ruling out finance for all new and expanded fossil fuel projects and companies pursuing them.
Westpac is no longer the lowest lender to fossil fuels of the big four, providing $2.3 billion in the last two years. Westpac also faced criticism for continuing to have active loans to ‘Australia’s most egregious climate wreckers’, Santos, Woodside and Whitehaven Coal.
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