Brisbane, 28 April 2017
Environmental finance campaigning organisation Market Forces has welcomed the climate change policy update released by Westpac today, which makes the bank the latest to rule out funding Adani’s Carmichael coal mine.
The policy tightens the criteria for Westpac’s funding of new thermal coal mines, meaning the bank will not lend to mines with an energy content of 6,300 kCal/kg Gross As Received. Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine falls well below 5,000 kCal/kg, effectively ruling it out. A commitment to only finance new power projects if it reduces the emissions intensity of the grid is also a de facto exclusion on new coal power stations.
The policy also commits Westpac to increasing its exposure to “climate solutions” from $6 billion today to $10 billion in 2020, and the bank will increase lending to climate solutions to $25 billion by 2030.
“With this policy change, Westpac has raised the bar on climate change for the other big banks, becoming the first major bank to put restrictions in for new thermal coal mines”, said Market Forces Executive Director Julien Vincent.
‘The fact that an existing lender to Adani has now ruled out financing the proposed Carmichael mine makes this announcement even more significant.
“We want to acknowledge the hard work from the thousands of concerned customers, shareholders and community members over the last few years that have helped delivered this result, and congratulate those within Westpac that advocated hard for stronger action on climate change.”
“With such a toxic political debate on coal at the moment, and a government falling over themselves to throw money at this dirty fuel, statements like these send a powerful message that coal is rapidly going out of fashion in the business and finance community.”
Westpac’s policy change does appear to make it the strongest among the major Australian banks on coal lending restrictions, but Market Forces had hoped to see the bank go further.
“Each month we see another bank putting in a clear, blanket restriction on finance for new thermal coal mines and power stations, so while Westpac has clearly stepped ahead of the other Australian banks, it has a way to go before it has caught up to its international counterparts.
“We call on all of Australia’s big four banks to align their policies and lending activities with the goal of holding global warming to less than two degrees. The first step to that goal is ruling out finance for any project that expands the fossil fuel industry, and being fossil fuel free by 2030.