UPDATE 26 June 2020
150 Commonwealth Bank shareholders, led by Guy and Kim Abrahams, have written to the bank, demanding answers over apparent breaches of the bank’s climate policy.
Original post – 28 May 2020
Commonwealth Bank shareholders are demanding answers over apparent breaches of the bank’s climate policy, and are looking for fellow shareholders to join them.
Read the shareholder letter at the bottom of this page.
Commonwealth Bank last year implemented a new environmental and social policy framework. It commits the bank to only provide banking and financing activity to new metallurgical coal, oil and gas projects if those projects had been assessed as consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Since then the bank has provided finance for several new fossil fuel infrastructure projects, yet no evidence has been made available about how these projects were assessed as Paris-aligned. This may well be a breach of policy, which has serious implications for the bank.
Shareholders Guy and Kim Abrahams, who sued Commonwealth Bank over its failure to disclose climate risk in 2016, are writing to the bank to ask if it has followed its own guidelines. They suspect the bank’s actions may amount to misconduct or a breach of Commonwealth Bank’s duties to shareholders.
Almost immediately after Commonwealth Bank committed to restricting oil and gas lending in line with Paris, the bank helped to fund the giant Permian Highway gas pipeline in Texas. This project is helping to unlock one of the world’s biggest carbon bombs – the massive Permian oil and gas basin.
This is one of four apparent breaches of CommBank’s oil and gas policy flagged in the shareholder letter.
The bank is risking non-compliance with its own policies in addition to damaging its reputation and shareholder value by lending to oil and gas projects that are inconsistent with the Paris climate goals.