CommBank – Worst climate policy of Australia’s big four banks

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$0 billion
loaned to dirty fossil fuels globally since 2008

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The Commonwealth Bank has loaned $7 billion to the dirty coal, oil and gas sectors since supposedly committing in 2015 to help limit global warming to less than two degrees. This is nearly four times its lending to renewables.

Worse still, our latest research calculates that since 2015 CommBank has loaned to new fossil fuel projects that, over their lifetimes, would enable another 2.9 billion tonnes of CO2 to be released into the atmosphere. That’s enough to cancel out the gains made by Australia’s emission reductions target nearly three times over.

New fossil fuel projects pose the greatest danger for the Paris climate targets.

CommBank had a chance to redefine its climate change approach with the release of its new Climate Policy Position Statement in August 2017. But this do-nothing policy failed to place any tangible constraints on fossil fuel lending, allowing CommBank to keep  lending to projects that expand the scale of the industry.

Take action: tell Commbank 2 degrees means no new fossil fuels

Has CommBank kept its promise on two degrees?

In late 2015, Commonwealth Bank publicly committed to taking action to support the international aim of keeping global warming to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. But as the scorecard shows, CommBank’s recent activity is completely inconsistent with that commitment.

A two degree warming limit gives us a very strict carbon budget to work within, meaning 80% of known fossil fuel reserves must stay underground if we are to have a fighting chance of not busting this limit.

What does this mean for Commbank? A good place to start would be a policy that excludes new investments which expand the fossil fuel industry. Beyond this, the bank must commit to actively managing down its exposure to fossil fuels, and become coal-free within five years.

Learn more about our big banks 2°C campaign.

Since 2°C commitment:

  • lending to fossil fuels
  • $0 million
  • Total lending to expansionary projects
  • $0 million
  • fossil fuel vs renewables lending
  • $3.80 : $1

  • Total emissions enabled
    (tonnes CO2)
  • 2.9 billion

  • Policy to reduce fossil fuel exposure?
  • FAIL

  • Policy restricting fossil fuel lending?
  • FAIL

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How is CommBank expanding fossil fuels?

Despite its 2C commitment, CommBank continues to back companies and projects that expand the fossil fuel industry.

One of the most blatant cases of CommBank’s disregard for a safe climate future came in November 2016, when the bank loaned $49 million to a new deepwater oil drilling project – the Heidelberg field located 225km off Louisiana’s coast. Its close to the Horizon Deepwater oil project, where a 2010 explosion caused one of the worst environmental disasters in history.

More recently, in May 2018 CommBank gave a whopping US$234.8 million loan for a giant new liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in Texas. Over its lifetime this project will enable the release of 811 million tonnes (Mt) of CO2-e, equivalent to 1.5 times Australia’s emissions in 2017.


Commbank’s global fossil fuel lending since 2°C commitment


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Find out more about the extent and impacts of banks financing fossil fuels, compare the lending positions of different banks and learn more about how to switch to a bank that aligns to your values.

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