Westpac is still backing dirty coal!
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Is your bank funding climate change?
Tell Westpac no more fossil fuels!
Westpac paints itself as a sustainable bank and after years of pressure from customers, environmental groups and the broader community, announced a Climate Action plan in 2017.
But our figures indicate Westpac has ramped up its lending to fossil fuel projects since that announcement, moving us dangerously closer to the emissions tipping point that we must avoid for a chance at a safe future climate.
The revelation in 2019 that ANZ secretly plans to cut its exposure to thermal coal by 75% by 2024 means Westpac is now the only big four bank without a strategy to reduce lending to thermal coal.
Right now, Westpac’s board are making decisions about their fossil fuel lending ahead of their climate policy update due in early 2020. It’s critical to let them know they are out of line with the Paris climate accord and out of line with customers who don’t want their bank investing in coal, oil and gas.
Email Westpac below, telling it to uphold its pledge to keep global warming below 1.5°C by staunching the flow of money to the dirty fossil fuel industry.
To actually address the climate crisis and reflect the “sustainable values” that Westpac boasts, it must commit to:
- No thermal coal exposure by 2030
- Not financing projects that expand the scale of the fossil fuel industry
- Not financing clients whose business strategies are based on the failure of the Paris Agreement
Has Westpac fulfilled its Paris climate pledges?
In short, no.
Since December 2015, when Westpac publicly committed to act in support of international goals to limit global warming to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, it has sunk $4.7 billion into fossil fuel deals.
Westpac went further in 2017, ruling out finance for low quality thermal coal and most new coal power and mining — including Adani’s Carmichael mine.
But since selling its Climate Change Action Plan to customers in April 2017, our figures show that the bank has invested at least $3 billion into fossil fuels across 38 deals, including projects that massively expand the impacts of the industry.
Our figures comparing Westpac’s lending from 2017 to 2018 show an 8% increase in lending to the fossil fuel sector.
If Westpac’s lending continues at the rate seen for the first half of 2019, Westpac will be on track for its biggest fossil fuel lending year since its Paris Climate Change Agreement pledge in 2015.
Moreover, according to the banks own documents, Westpac more than doubled its exposure to coal mining between 2017 and 2018.
Although stepping in the right direction, Westpac’s policy doesn’t go far enough to line up with its commitment to the Paris climate goals.
How is Westpac expanding fossil fuels?
Westpac is contradicting its pledge by continuing to lend to expansionary fossil fuel projects that are out of line with Paris Agreement climate goals.
In October 2019 Westpac loaned $111 million to Woodside Petroleum for its planned expenditure on projects such as Pluto LNG. Woodside is also planning other massive gas projects, including the $20.5 billion Browse project which it calls “Australia’s largest untapped conventional gas resource.”
In February 2018 Westpac loaned $52 million to Australian Gas Infrastructure Group to enable the development of a 440 km gas pipeline in the Northern Territory.
In April 2016, Westpac contributed a massive $90m to a refinancing deal for InterOil to develop one of Asia’s largest untapped gas fields, Elk-Antelope in Papua New Guinea, estimated to release 342 Mt of CO2 emissions over its lifetime.These fields will provide gas for a new LNG facility, locking-in decades of production of this highly greenhouse gas-intensive fuel. Aside from Elk-Antelope’s huge climate costs, unconventional gas production poses terrible environmental risks.
Between 2017 and 2018 Westpac also increased its exposure to coal mining by more than 140%.
Sustained public pressure from thousands of people across Australia forced Westpac to take a position of fossil fuel lending and again it will take powerful public action to push the bank to commit to stop lending to projects that are out of line with the Paris climate agreement.
Particularly concerning is @Westpac's backing of oil and gas company Woodside, including plans in the Browse Basin, given its ability to help develop a largely untapped conventional gas resource off the Western Australia coast. https://t.co/AHyMBKbRpI
— Market Forces (@market_forces) November 6, 2019
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.