Commbank biggest lender to coal and gas in the Reef

16 May 2015

A lot has changed in the two years since we released our Financing Reef Destruction report, which identified Australia’s big four banks as the leading financiers of fossil fuel projects within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Some changes have been for the better, and it is good to reflect on a couple of the successes since 2013. A number of huge proposed coal export projects – including Glencore’s Balaclava Island project, The Fitzroy Terminal and Dudgeon Point – have all been cancelled, while mining giants Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Anglo American have all withdrawn from the Abbot Point coal export terminal.

Commbank chose ffBut Abbot Point remains a site of great significance in the fight to save the Reef, as further development plans – connected to proposed mega coal mines in the Galilee Basin – remain on the table. Encouragingly, eleven major international banks have committed to not financing all or part of the Galilee coal supply chain, limiting the finance options for the Abbot Point expansion proposals.

However, the big four banks remain well and truly in the frame as likely debt providers, as each has massively stepped up their lending to fossil fuel projects in the reef over the past two years. In the 2013 report, the big four all held positions amongst the top six lenders to coal and gas ports in the reef. Now, with lending data from the last two years included, these banks take up positions one through four.

And the worst culprit of all? The Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Since Financing Reef Destruction was released, Commbank has loaned almost $2 billion, overtaking ANZ as the single biggest lender to fossil fuel projects in the reef since 2008.

The table below shows the top ten lenders to these dangerous and destructive projects within the World Heritage Area from 2008-14, based on research conducted by Market Forces.

Banks lending to fossil fuel projects in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area 2008-14
BankDebt (A$millions)
State Bank of India1711.23
Mizuho Financial Group1229.83
Standard Chartered964.54
DNB ASA644.22

Fueling the Fire Front CoverThese figures and much more of our research into fossil fuel financing are presented in our latest report Fueling the Fire. Click the image to access the online version or request print copies.

Commbank’s giant leap towards financing Reef destruction

In late 2013, CommBank loaned Indian giant Adani $700 million to refinance its purchase of the Abbot Point export terminal, and were last year outed as advisors as Adani seeks funding for its proposed expansion of the coal port.

Commonwealth’s continued support for the industrialisation of the Great Barrier Reef make it one of the greatest ongoing threats to the health of the World Heritage Site, as it now presents as the most likely contributor to any future fossil fuel projects in the area.

What’s being done to stop them

In response, thousands of customers have told the bank to stop funding the fossil fuel industry, and many have decided to take their business elsewhere, publicly closing their accounts.

If you are a customer of Commbank or any of the “big four” Australian banks, take action! Tell them that if they continue to to use your money to finance the destruction of the reef, you’ll move to another bank.

MF Bank on Notice SM Graphic v01