Westpac is still backing dirty coal!
Share this page
Is your bank funding climate change?
Tell Westpac its Paris Pledge means no new fossil fuels
Westpac, the Australian bank most exposed to coal power has committed to exit thermal coal by 2030.
This is a big win for hundreds of customers and shareholders who put Westpac on notice, lobbied outside local branches, put climate in the spotlight at Westpac’s AGM and divested from their bank which all helped to push Westpac over the line.
While Westpac has said its future support for oil and gas will be in line with the Paris Agreement, we’re going to need to stay on the bank’s case to ensure they don’t finance any expansion of these sectors, which also need to decline if we’re to meet the 1.5ºC global warming limit.
Acknowledge Westpac’s important step, and tell them you’ll be keeping a close eye on whether it will align its lending with its Paris climate pledge.
Has Westpac fulfilled its Paris climate pledge?
Since Westpac publicly committed to act in support of international goals to limit global warming to less than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it has sunk $5.4 billion into fossil fuel deals, including $846million in to projects that expand the scale of the industry.
This update is another nail in the coffin for the thermal coal industry, as Westpac joins the Commonwealth and Australia three major insurers to quit thermal coal by 2030.
The bank also appears to have made a subtle commitment to not finance new oil and gas projects, indicating that any financing of the sector from this point on will need to be compatible with the Paris Agreement. To meet the Paris climate goal of limiting global warming to 1.5ºC, energy from gas must fall by 25% by 2030 and oil by 37% from a 2010 baseline according to the IPCC.
Although stepping in the right direction, Westpac’s policy will only be worth the paper its written on if the bank reverses its disturbing history of lending to fossil fuels.
How has Westpac been expanding fossil fuels?
Westpac policy update in May 2020 appears to have made a subtle commitment to not finance new oil and gas projects, indicating that any financing of the sector from this point on will need to be compatible with the Paris Agreement. To meet the Paris climate goal of limiting global warming to 1.5ºC, energy from gas must fall by 25% by 2030 and oil by 37% from a 2010 baseline according to the IPCC.
This new policy should reverse a disturbing trend in Westpac’s recent lending activity. Since 2016 Westpac has loaned $5.4 billion to coal, oil and gas projects including $846 million to projects that expand the scale of the fossil fuel industry. Since commiting the the Paris Climate Agreement, Westpac has loaned 2.7 times as much money to fossil fuels as to renewable energy.
We are now calling on Westpac to apply the same principles to corporate customers as it has done to projects. In recent years, Westpac’s corporate lending has included deals such as:
- $110 million to Woodside Energy in the 2nd half of 2019 that will help to open up more of Western Australia to dangerous gas extraction. The bank earned $2.8 million in fees for arranging this loan.
- lending $315 million to Origin Energy, which plans to open up the Northern Territory to dangerous fracking.
- $92 million to Whitehaven coal and $54 million to Santos, both of which have massive plans to expand the coal and gas sectors.
- $32 million to Horizon Oil, the company embroiled in a corruption scandal after allegedly giving $15.4 million to a shell company owned by the Papua New Guinea Minister for Petroleum and Energy.
If you want your power station or mine open past then, it's going to get tough. #divest
— Market Forces (@market_forces) May 4, 2020
Want to share your divestment story?
Record a short video using your computer or phone (held sideways in landscape) and email us at [email protected] so that we can help you share it.
As a medical specialist, I recognise the adverse health impacts of coal combustion and its central contribution to climate change. This is not a statement of ideology but purely a scientific one.
Any bank ignoring this can expect divestment action from their customers. We sent a letter of notice in 2017 but since then Bank of Melbourne/Westpac Group has increased lending to the fossil fuel sector with no discernible strategy to exit coal financing. We are now with a lender more aligned with our values as well as the Paris Agreement.
- Dr Steven, Melbourne
Westpac staff messages to Westpac decision makers
Market Forces has asked Westpac staff to complete an anonymous staff survey asking whether they support Westpac’s lending to coal, oil and gas. Below are some of the messages that Westpac staff wanted to send to Westpac.
Send Westpac a sign
Even if you’re not a customer you can send Westpac a sign!
Write, paint or print a message to Westpac, take a photo and send it to us at [email protected] so that we can amplify your message on social media.
Share your sign on Facebook, Twitter and anywhere else. Make sure that you tag Market Forces and your bank: @Market_Forces, @Westpac, @Westpacsustain and use hashtags #NoNewFossilFuels #StopFundingFossilFuels
Tagging Market Forces makes sure we see it so we can share it with our supporters.
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.