Home > Campaigns > Banks > ANZ – Bank AGM Season Update – Dec 2023



Bank AGM Season 2023

ANZ, NAB and Westpac continue to undermine their commitments to the Paris Agreement by financing companies that are expanding the fossil fuel industry.

The good news is, from 2025 each of the big four will require fossil fuel companies to have emissions reduction plans (transition plan) in order to receive new lending. That means, if a fossil fuel company cannot demonstrate on paper that it has a plan to scale down its emissions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement they could be ineligible to receive financial support from Australia’s largest lenders.

But with their policies as is, there’s plenty of loopholes that could see the big four continue to pour money into climate wrecking companies up until 2025 and beyond.

We’re putting pressure on the banks to ensure they don’t give another cent to climate-wrecking companies. But we need your help!

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Tell ANZ, Westpac and Nab to close their fossil fuel finance gaps, and end their relationship with climate wreckers once and for all!

ANZ’s AGM turns into climate circus

7 January 2024

  • ANZ’s AGM in Brisbane was turned into a literal circus by a number of shareholders clearly fed up with the bank’s rampant financing of fossil fuel expansion in a climate crisis.
  • The ANZ Board stood and watched as jugglers, clowns, and circus performers took over the room, sending a clear signal that a number of shareholders view ANZ’s climate inaction as a joke.
  • ANZ has been Australia’s biggest backer of fossil fuels ($18.6 billion) and fossil fuel expansion ($11.1 billion) since the Paris Agreement.
  • The bank was also confronted over its lack of formal response to a human rights complaint lodged by Larrakia and Tiwi Islands Traditional owners related to ANZ financing Santos’ Barossa project.
  • CEO Shayne Elliot joined his peers at CommBank and Westpac in making a commitment to visit the Tiwi Islands early in 2024 to discuss the complaint.
ANZ's climate circus. A cicus performer blows bubbles while on another's shoulders, at the ANZ AGM

ANZ is by far the biggest supporter of fossil fuels in Australia’s banking sector. ANZ’s financial support for climate-wrecking companies is so out of line that in November 2023 an ANZ shareholder filed a claim in the Federal Court over concerns the bank was failing to adequately manage climate risk.

ANZ is the only big four Australian bank yet to rule out providing project finance for new oil and gas fields, an astonishingly bad policy given that experts have said for years these projects are incompatible with limiting warming to 1.5°C.

ANZ won’t even require fossil fuel companies to have Paris-aligned scope 3 emissions reductions targets as part of their emissions reduction plans. It’s hard to overstate how big of a flaw that is, considering that scope 3 emissions often account for 90% of fossil fuel mining companies’ emissions.

But with increasing pressure from shareholders, customers, and the community, it’s starting to seem like ANZ can’t carry on with its climate circus act any longer.

Shareholder resolution

Along with hundreds of shareholders, Market Forces put forward a member statement at ANZ’s AGM, urging investors to demand detail from the bank on how it will ensure all future fossil fuel finance is aligned with Paris.

ANZ announced in its 2023 climate disclosures that it would be requiring ‘energy sector’ companies to have a transition plan by the end of 2025 in order to receive new lending. But the loopholes in its policy are substantial and unlikely to stop the bank from continuing to finance climate wreckers. You can refer to our latest detailed analysis of ANZ’s policy shortcomings for more information.

ANZ board at the ANZ annual general meeting

ANZ Chairman Paul O’Sullivan

Tiwi Islands and the Santos human rights complaint

In April, Traditional Owners filed a human rights complaint at ANZ, CBA, NAB and Westpac over the banks involvement in a loan related to Santos’ Barossa project, a loan that appallingly was given while Traditional Owners were challenging Santos over its shoddy consultation process.

The human rights complaint made several requests of each bank, including to publicly apologise to Traditional Owners, to provide information about any human rights due diligence done by the bank and to meet the Claimants for a dialogue on-country.

“The banks are not thinking about us or our winga (saltwater). They are disrespecting our wishes and our cultural heritage the same way Santos is. I’m very hurt. We all feel hurt that they aren’t listening to us. When Santos drill, the banks are also drilling into our bodies. They are exactly the same. The bank is giving Santos the money to go ahead with destroying us and who we are.”

– Carol Maria Puruntatameri

In the lead up to the AGM, we understood that ANZ was still yet to formally respond to the human rights complaint.

At Westpac’s AGM the week prior, CEO Peter King committed to engaging with a dialogue on Tiwi Country with the Traditional Owners. ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott was asked by Market Forces banks campaigner Kyle Robertson if he would be joining his peer in making this commitment.

Mr. Elliott responded by saying “the simple answer is yes”, following on to say that he intends to make a trip to the Tiwi Islands early in 2024 to discuss the human rights complaint.

It was another significant moment for Tiwi Islands Traditional Owners, who have now drawn commitments from the CEOs of ANZ, CommBank and Westpac to visit the Tiwi Islands and discuss the human rights complaint. NAB is embarrassingly the only one of the big four yet to commit to a visit.

Bushfire survivor confronts board over reckless fossil fuel finance

ANZ was grilled by CEO of Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action, Serena Joyner, over its rampant financing of fossil fuel expansion since the Paris Agreement.

In an impassioned address to the ANZ board, Ms. Joyner pointedly questioned whether ANZ “wants to be the bank that helps Australians own homes or the bank that fuels the climate disasters that are costing Australians their homes”.

In light of a recent Federal Court of Australia filing by one of ANZ’s shareholders, Ms. Joyner asked the board how it intends to reduce its exposure to climate risk, risks that are not only borne by the bank but also everyday Australians.

In response, Chairman Paul O’Sullivan, repeatedly referred to ANZ as a responsible lender, before stating “those companies are going to get finance from somewhere, so it’s better that they get it from a responsible lender like us.”

Ms. Joyner pointed out that this argument has been referred to as the ‘drug dealer’s defence’, and that every expansion of fossil fuels makes our homes, communities and planet less safe.

Mr.O’Sullivan replied by saying that everything ANZ is investing in is creating more responsible companies that have to prove how they’re going to reduce their emissions. This claim does not stack up with the bank’s actual behaviour. Over the previous two years, ANZ loaned $2.9 billion to companies and projects expanding the fossil fuel sector. In recent months alone it participated in arranging a $1.3 billion bond to Santos and a $2.3 billion loan to JERA, two companies with massive gas expansion plans. You can’t reduce emissions while expanding fossil fuels.

It’s time for ANZ to stop treating its shareholders, customers, staff and the Australian public like fools and actually start acting like a truly responsible lender by cutting off all finance for fossil fuel expansion.

Take Action! Tell ANZ to live up to its commitments and stop funding new fossil fuels below. 

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