Monday 24 July, 2017: New analysis from environmental finance group Market Forces today reveals Australia’s Big Four banks have lent $17 billion dollars to expand the fossil fuel industry since declaring their commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement of keeping the world well below two degrees warming.
The projects financed equate to adding 3.4 billion tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere over their lifetimes, enough to cancel out the savings made in emissions from Australia’s 2030 target three times over.
“Commbank’s hypocrisy on climate change makes them stand out from the pack,” said Market Forces Executive Director Julien Vincent. “Since coming out in support of the goal to hold global warming below two degrees, it alone has financed new fossil fuel projects capable of wiping out Australia’s 2030 emission reduction goals. It has no policies to restrict investments in fossil fuels and is the only one of Australia’s major banks to remain silent on the issue of financing the Adani Carmichael mine.”
Whilst lending to fossil fuels dwarfs that into renewable energy by a ratio of 3.5 to one, in terms of project finance, it appears the ‘Big Four’ banks have stopped financing new coal.
Lending to coal overall is declining sharply, falling from $3.1 billion in 2015 to $1.4 billion in 2016 and as of July 2017, $458 million.
“We’re seeing coal lending drying up, reflecting both the growing concern in the community over its environmental impacts, and the industry’s spiral into structural decline,” said Vincent.
Even though the signs are positive on coal lending, Australia’s banks still have policies that leave the door open to funding new coal, and are falling behind their international counterparts. Australian banks ranked among some of the worst in the world on policies regarding coal mining, coal power, extreme oil and LNG.
“Whilst it should be noted NAB and Westpac in particular have made positive steps on lending and policy, much more remains to be done,” said Vincent.
“No scientist worth their white coat will tell you that expanding the fossil fuel industry is compatible with safeguarding the world’s climate, in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.”
“Globally, investment into renewable energy more than doubled that into fossil fuels as early as 2015, yet Australia’s banks – and Commbank in particular – are operating as if it was the other way around. Not only is this in clear contravention of their public statements, it is an opportunity gone begging.”
Read the Market Forces study: www.marketforces.org.au/twodegrees