Still backing companies expanding dirty fossil fuels
Still backing companies expanding dirty fossil fuels
In May 2020, thanks to a strong community campaign, Westpac, the Australian bank most exposed to coal power committed to exit thermal coal by 2030.
While this is a good first step, if Westpac is to fulfill its stated commitment to the climate goals of the Paris Agreement it needs to go a lot further.
Westpac must rule out lending to any project or company seeking to expand the fossil fuel sector and set science-based dates for the phase-out of its oil and gas exposure.
Acknowledge Westpac’s important first step, and tell it it must do more in order to play its part in limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.
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Take action: tell Westpac that its Paris Agreement pledge means no more fossil fuels!
Use the form below to send your message to Westpac. If you aren’t a customer or shareholder of the bank, you can instead send a message to all four major banks here.
Has Westpac fulfilled its Paris climate pledge?
Since Westpac publicly committed to act in support of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to less than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, it has sunk over $5 billion into fossil fuel deals, including over $800 million into projects that expand the scale of the fossil fuel industry.
This update is another nail in the coffin for the thermal coal industry, as Westpac joins the Commonwealth Bank and Australia’s 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 it’s written on if the bank reverses its disturbing history of lending to fossil fuels.
With @Westpac's move today, 2 of Australia's big-4 banks, and all 3 Aus major general insurers will now be exiting thermal #coal by 2030.— Market Forces (@market_forces) May 4, 2020
If you want your power station or mine open past then, it's going to get tough. #divest
See our full analysis: https://t.co/X82OpK79My pic.twitter.com/eNlHuIznOL
How is Westpac expanding fossil fuels?
Westpac’s 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 January 2016 Westpac has loaned $5.4 billion to coal, oil and gas projects including $843 million to projects that expand the scale of the fossil fuel industry.
We are now calling on Westpac to apply the same principles to corporate customers as it has done to projects. As revealed by our scorecard, Westpac has loaned more than $1.1 billion to companies with business plans consistent with the failure of the Paris Agreement. In the section adjacent you will find Westpac’s total lending to such companies, as well as a table listing the companies themselves.
- $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. Westpac 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.
Westpac’s connections to companies out of line with the Paris Agreement
|wdt_ID||Out of line companies||Banks|
|1||AGL Energy||ANZ, CommBank, NAB, Westpac|
|2||APA Group||ANZ, CommBank, NAB, Westpac|
|3||Aurizon||ANZ, CommBank, NAB, Westpac|
|4||Beach Energy||ANZ, CommBank, NAB, Westpac|
|6||Mineral Resources||CommBank, NAB, Westpac|
|8||Oil Search||ANZ, CommBank, NAB, Westpac|
|9||Origin Energy||ANZ, CommBank, NAB, Westpac|
|10||Santos||ANZ, CommBank, Westpac|
|12||Whitehaven Coal||ANZ, NAB, Westpac|
|13||Woodside Energy||ANZ, CommBank, Westpac|
Westpac’s lending to companies out of line with the Paris Agreement since 1 Jan 2016
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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.
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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.