Image: Gladstone Port Development, QLD. © Greenpeace / Tom Jefferson



Image: Gladstone Port Development, QLD. © Greenpeace / Tom Jefferson
$0 million
loaned to projects that expand the polluting gas industry (2016-2019)

On 5 November 2015, NAB promised to support the Paris Agreement, most recently stating the bank “will seek to manage our portfolio to align with the Paris Agreement goal….striving for 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels”.

To meet the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, there is “no room for expansion of the gas industry” according to an August 2020 letter from 25 leading Australian scientists.(1)

Yet since 1 January 2016, NAB has loaned more than $1 billion to projects that expand the scale of the polluting gas industry. These projects will enable the release of over 2.2 billion tonnes of CO2, equivalent to more than four times Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions for the year to September 2020.

Since 2016, NAB has also loaned more than $1 billion to companies whose business plans rely on the failure of the Paris Agreement, including Origin Energy, which is pursuing dangerous gas fracking of the Beetaloo Basin in the NT.

NAB has confirmed it’s formulating a new stance on gas, which it will publish later this year.

TAKE ACTION! Tell NAB: 1.5 degrees means no expanding the polluting gas industry!

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Take action!

NAB is updating its position on finance for polluting gas. Tell NAB: 1.5°C means no expansion of the climate-wrecking gas industry!

Has NAB fulfilled its Paris climate pledge?

In late 2015, NAB publicly committed to taking action to support the Paris Agreement, which includes the goal of limiting global warming to less than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. But as our scorecard shows, NAB’s activity has been completely inconsistent with that commitment.

The 1.5°C warming limit has stark implications for the world’s energy system. It means we cannot accommodate any new or expanded fossil fuel projects, and must phase out thermal coal in OECD countries by 2030.

Yet NAB has continued lending heavily to companies and projects expanding the scale of the fossil fuel industry, blatantly flouting its commitment to the Paris Agreement.

In November 2019 NAB committed to be out of thermal coal by 2035, five years later than what Commonwealth Bank committed to earlier that year, and also five years later than OECD countries have been told we need to phase out coal-fired power completely. In some ways, this is worse than having no policy at all, as it means NAB deliberately selected a date it knows is consistent with the failure of the Paris Agreement.

From here, NAB’s next steps should be extending its December 2017 thermal coal exclusion policy to rule out all finance for companies and projects that expand the dirty fossil fuel industry, bringing its thermal coal exit date forward to 2030 (if not earlier) and committing to phase out investment exposure to oil and gas in line with meeting the Paris Agreement.

Find out more about our big banks campaign.

Scorecard since Paris Agreement commitment:

  • total lending to fossil fuels
  • $0 million
  • lending to companies with business plans consistent with the failure of Paris Agreement
  • $0 million
  • Total lending to expansionary projects
  • $0 million
  • fossil fuel vs renewables lending ratio
  • $1.35 : $1

  • Total emissions enabled
    (tonnes CO2)
  • 2.5 billion

  • Plans to exit thermal coal by 2030, consistent with Paris Agreement?
  • No

  • Plans to phase out all fossil fuel exposure in line with the Paris Agreement?
  • No

  • Explicitly rules out funding new or expansionary fossil fuels?
  • No

  • Explicitly rules out funding companies whose business plans are consistent with the failure of the Paris Agreement?
  • No

How is NAB expanding fossil fuels?

Despite its commitment to the Paris climate goals, NAB still lends to companies and projects that expand the fossil fuel industry. This includes loans to huge gas projects and Australia’s most polluting gas companies:

In April 2020, NAB loaned $122 million for the development of the 670km Coastal GasLink Pipeline in British Columbia, Canada. Market Forces estimates that, over its lifetime, the Coastal GasLink Pipeline would transport at least enough gas to emit 610 million tonnes of CO2 if combusted. That’s more than Australia’s national emissions for the calendar year 2019 (532.5 Mt CO2-e).

Not only does NAB lend to destructive gas projects, it also lends to companies actively expanding the gas sector and/or relying on scenarios consistent with the failure of the Paris Agreement to justify their future business prospects:

  • In October 2020, NAB loaned US$50 million to Santos, the company pursuing the highly opposed Narrabri gas project which would trash Traditional Owner rights.

    In a submission to the planning process for the project, Australia’s former Chief Scientist argued the Narrabri Gas Project should be blocked on climate grounds.
  • In November 2019, NAB participated in a $500 million financing for Origin Energy, which is pursuing dangerous gas fracking in the Northern Territory opposed by Traditional Owners.

    According to Professor Ian Lowe of Griffith University, “approving the proposed development of shale gas from the Beetaloo Sub-Basin or McArthur Basin would add very significantly to Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions in the critical period before 2030, when we are required by the Paris agreement to achieve significant reductions”.

Santos AGM protest

Santos AGM protest.

Not only is NAB backing expansion of the gas industry, it’s even backing expansion of the coal industry in Australia. In fact, NAB has breached its own December 2017 policy which claims the bank “will no longer finance new thermal coal mining projects”.

Market Forces’ research finds that since NAB announced its thermal coal policy, the bank has funded New Hope Coal (for its New Acland Stage 3 thermal coal mine) and Coronado Global Resources (owner of the Curragh coal mine, which has planned or undergone extensions and expansions).

In February 2020, NAB also loaned $110 million to Whitehaven Coal, which plans to spend almost $2 billion building new coal mines, or expansions of existing ones, and has repeatedly justified its coal expansion strategy by reference to coal demand projections that are consistent with a catastrophic 4°C of warming.


Expansionary fossil fuel projects funded by NAB since 1 Jan 2016

NAB’s funding of expansionary fossil fuel projects since 1 Jan 2016

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