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Media Release

Media Release: Australia’s banks’ $10 billion fossil fuel funding flouts climate pledges

6 March 2017

Australia’s banks’ $10 billion fossil fuel funding flouts climate pledges

MONDAY 6 MARCH, 2017: New analysis by finance group Market Forces reveals Australia’s ‘big four’ provided almost $10 billion in finance to fossil fuels across the planet in 2016 – three and a half times the amount invested in clean energy.

• ANZ and Commbank were Australia’s dirtiest banks in 2016. ANZ’s meager $225 million to renewables was dwarfed by $3.2 billion of funding to fossil fuels, leaving the institution with a lending ratio of 14:1 in terms of dirty to clean energy;
• With $3.9 billion to fossil fuels, Commbank’s lending was the highest in total, but its dirty to clean ratio was a slight improvement on ANZ, due to $846 million in finance for renewables;
• Westpac gave lie to its claims to be a sustainable institution by lending $1.5 billion to fossil fuels, compared to $426 million to clean energy;
• By lending $1.35 billion to fossil fuels and $1.3 billion to renewables, NABs performance was the most creditable of the big four.

ANZ, CommBank, NAB and Westpac have all publicly championed the two degree limit, each committing to support the transition to a low carbon economy. Despite this, all four banks breached their promises by once again funding projects which will expand the worldwide fossil fuel industry, including in Australia, India, Indonesia, Norway, PNG and the US.

“It’s nonsense to suggest funding the expansion of the fossil fuel industry is compatible with a two degree world, yet that is exactly what the banks are expecting us to swallow,” said Market Forces Executive Director Julien Vincent.

“What’s more, by continuing to prop up fossil fuels, Australia’s banks are bucking trends which have seen renewable funding sky-rocket. Already by 2015, investment in renewables was double that into fossil fuel generation capacity globally. Not only is this in clear breach of their public pledges, it also constitutes a major missed opportunity.”

However, whilst gas and gas infrastructure feature prominently, lending for new coal projects has ground to a halt. In early 2016 even ANZ quietly withdrew from its position as coordinating bank on finance for the new, US$1.2 billion 1,200 megawatt ‘Song Hau 1’ power station, located near the highly sensitive Mekong Delta in Vietnam.

“It seems the banks have belatedly got the picture that coal is no longer a viable funding proposition, both environmentally and economically,” said Vincent.

View the results: www.marketforces.org.au/2016lending