Media Release: Australia’s big four banks commit to 2 degree global warming goal – but which ones mean real action?

5 November 2015

Market Forces have today welcomed announcements from Commonwealth Bank and NAB that acknowledge the need to limit global warming to less than two degrees, calling on the banks to back up their statements with action that matches this ambition.

The announcements come just weeks out from the Paris climate change negotiations and mean now all four of Australia’s big banks support the two degree limit – at least in principle.

Market Forces lead campaigner, Julien Vincent, said the announcements mean a step-change in the banking sector’s approach towards climate change, but reminded banks of the important implications this meant for how banks will need to do business in future, saying:

“This is a very important step, because in the fight to avoid runaway climate change we’re going to need the financial sector well and truly on board. Australia’s big banks shape the economy of today and the future, so they need to go beyond support and demonstrate leadership, with the difference between the two pretty easy to tell.

Vincent said the world is on track to blow its carbon budget within 20 years, but the quicker the fossil fuel footprint is reduced the more that budget can be stretched out, he said.

“The implications of committing to action that aims to limit global warming to less than two degrees translate to major changes in how the a bank will do business on energy.

“The Commonwealth Bank acknowledge the role they have to play in helping the world meet the two degree limit. If that is the case, then surely they must acknowledge that there can be no more room for financing new fossil fuel projects. There simply isn’t room in the carbon budget for a two degree global warming limit for the fossil fuel sector to expand.

“An easy next step for Commonwealth Bank to take would be to follow NAB’s lead in committing to not finance the proposed Carmichael mega coal mine in the Galilee Basin. Surely the first, and by far easiest test of a bank’s commitment to a two degree goal would be to acknowledge that new mega coal mines are out of bounds.”