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CommBank’s climate fail

22 June 2017

Commonwealth Bank has been given FAIL grades in all four categories of a new study into international banks’ fossil fuel lending policies. With no publicly disclosed policies to restrict coal mining, coal power, LNG exports or extreme oil, Commonwealth Bank found itself at the bottom of a pile of 37 international banks, receiving an F in all four categories.

Commonwealth Bank wasn’t the only Australian bank to receive straight “F”s, as NAB received the same marks. But CommBank loaned $4 billion to the dirty coal, oil and gas sectors in 2016, more than any other bank in Australia.

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Worst of a bad bunch

A new report compiled by international environment groups graded 37 banks on four aspects of their fossil fuel lending policies: extreme oil (including tar sands, ultra deep water and arctic drilling); coal mining; coal power; and liquified natural gas (LNG).

As shown in the table, Commonwealth Bank and NAB were two of the 11 banks that received FAIL marks in all four categories, meaning the banks have no policies that restrict lending to those areas.

Westpac’s recent policy update saw the bank score C- grades for coal mining and coal power policies. But the bank lacks policies for extreme oil and LNG lending, so failed in those two areas.

ANZ’s weak extreme oil, coal mining and coal power policies received D-, D- and C- scores respectively, while the bank failed in the LNG category.

No bank managed to score higher than a B in any field, and the worst performers were generally from Australia and Asia.

So while there are no real shining lights when it comes to climate policy in the international banking industry, Australia’s banks are clearly well below average.

Without a single concrete public policy to restrict lending to any fossil fuel sector, Commonwealth Bank and NAB are the worst of this bad bunch.

BankRegionExtreme oilCoal miningCoal powerLNG
Commonwealth Bank*AustraliaFFFF
Sumitomo Mitsui Financial GroupAsiaFFFF
Mitsubishi UFJ Financial GroupAsiaFFFF
Mizuho Financial GroupAsiaFFFF
China Construction BankAsiaFFFF
Bank of ChinaAsiaFFFF
Agricultural Bank of ChinaAsiaFFFF
Credit SuisseEuropeDC+CD-
Deutsche BankEuropeD-B-C+D-
BNP ParibasEuropeDC+BF
BPCE / NatixisEuropeFBBF
Société GénéraleEuropeD-B-B-D-
Standard CharteredEuropeD-C+C-D-
Crédit AgricoleEuropeCBB-D
PNCNorth AmericaN/AB-C+D-
Wells FargoNorth AmericaD+B-DD-
Morgan StanleyNorth AmericaD-B-CD-
JPMorgan ChaseNorth America DB-CD-
TD BankNorth AmericaD-C+D-D-
Goldman SachsNorth AmericaD+C-CD-
RBCNorth AmericaDD-D-D-
CitiNorth AmericaD+B-C-D
CIBCNorth AmericaFFFF
Scotia BankNorth AmericaFFFF
Bank of MontrealNorth AmericaD-D-D-D-
Bank of AmericaNorth AmericaD-B-C-F

Show me the money

While polices are important in keeping money out of fossil fuels, we also need to look at the lending figures to get a complete picture of where the banks are at.

And that picture looks particularly bleak for Commonwealth Bank. In 2016 alone, CommBank loaned $3.9 billion to fossil fuel projects and companies, the most of any Australian bank by far.

The next highest fossil fuel lender was ANZ, with a 2016 total of $3.2 billion. This shows that, while ANZ may have some policies in place, they are far too weak to drastically restrict funding of dirty projects.

Wetspac, which didn’t have their current coal mining and coal power policies in place in 2016, loaned $1.4 billion to fossil fuels that year.

Interestingly NAB, which does not have any policies restricting fossil fuel finance was the lowest lender to the sector of the big four banks in 2016. While the $1.4 billion they did loan was still way too much, the stats show that actions can sometimes speak louder than words.

More info

To view the report card in full, please visit: https://www.ran.org/banking_on_climate_change