Commonwealth Bank's Chair Catherine Livingstone has used today's annual general meeting in Sydney to indicate the bank intends to get out of the coal industry.
Under pressure after Commonwealth Bank has continued its role as Australia's biggest fossil fuel lender, and having failed to produce a policy that contains any limits to fossil fuel lending, CommBank had been under pressure from campaigners, shareholders and customers to commit to stronger climate action.
Today's statement is a step in that direction, Livingstone saying the bank's coal funding "has been trending down for some time. We expect that trend to continue over time as we help finance the transition to a low carbon economy."
Commonwealth Bank is one of Australia's biggest lenders to fossil fuels and historically has played a huge role in supporting new and existing coal projects.
Their lending to coal has fallen significantly in recent years and, if the Chair's statement is anything to go by, this is set to continue, trending down towards zero.
The news is a win for campaigners who had been campaigning to get Commonwealth Bank to stop funding new coal, as the decreasing exposure to coal leaves little to no room for any proposed new projects.
Julien Vincent from Market Forces attended the annual general meeting to read a statement in support of a resolution. The resolution was lodged by Market Forces on behalf of more than 140 shareholders and asked that directors of the company act a manner consistent with holding global warming to below two degrees. Watch as Julien explains the need for voting in favour of the resolution given the differences between the banks actions and word.
Next year the Adani Abbot Point coal export terminal is due to be re-financed, with the Commonwealth bank currently being the most exposed to the deal. A shareholder asked whether the Commonwealth bank would exit their support for the terminal. Watch as Catherine Livingstone explains that while they ‘don’t normally comment on individual clients….we will not provide funding to the Adani Carmichael mine.’
Because of pressure from customers, shareholders and citizens around the country, the Commonwealth Bank is taking positive steps towards a healthy climate and future. It's important to keep the pressure on the Commonwealth Bank’s to make sure its actions are consistent with the statements made today.