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Media Release

NAB arranging funds for Origin Energy despite new climate policy

15 November 2021

15 November 2021

Just days after releasing a new “transition-focused” oil and gas policy, it has been revealed that NAB is co-arranging a A$2.4 billion loan for Origin Energy.

Origin Energy is pursuing gas drilling in the Beetaloo Basin, which would emit up to 1.35 billion tonnes of CO2-e over its lifetime according to Reputex (equivalent to 2.7 times Australia’s 2020 greenhouse gas emissions).

“Nothing could better illustrate the utter hollowness of NABs climate policy than arranging funds for a company opening up a colossal new fossil gas basin,” said Jack Bertolus, Australian Campaigns Coordinator, Market Forces. “It’s almost beyond parody.”

“Clearly, the bank isn’t serious about net zero by 2050 and should either take genuine action or publicly withdraw its commitment to the goal.”

NAB cannot ‘directly’ finance greenfield gas extraction in Australia under its new policy unless it argues the gas “plays a role in underpinning national energy security”.

However, the policy allows NAB to continue funding such projects ‘indirectly’ by lending to the companies pursuing them, rather than to the projects themselves.

Analysis from Reputex, released in October, finds lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from Beetaloo Sub-basin projects (including those pursued by Origin) would be up to 1,358 million tonnes, equivalent to 2.7 times Australia’s 2020 greenhouse gas emissions. The report also finds:

“Beetaloo basin gas emissions represent a large source of additional GHG emissions entering the Australian economy at a time when rapid global emission reductions are necessary to limit the effects of global warming. To this end, new oil and gas fields from 2021 have been modelled by the IEA to be inconsistent with a net-zero pathway (IEA 2021b).”

Additional information

  • In October, Market Forces supported shareholders to lodge a resolution with banks including NAB, calling for an end to the billions of dollars of finance which continue to be poured into companies and projects expanding the fossil fuel industry.
  • In October, The Chaser (in collaboration with Market Forces) rebranded NAB to ‘NOB’ owing to the bank’s substantial fossil fuel lending.
  • In August, former NAB Chief Economist Rob Henderson said “It’s high time that banks like NAB decided not to lend any more to new projects in fossil fuels”.
  • In October, French bank La Banque Postale committed to immediately suspend financial services to companies contributing to oil and gas expansion, and set a 2030 deadline to totally exit oil and gas. In the same month, Belgian bank KBC made a similar announcement.
  • Last week, it was reported NAB was arranging debt for Global Infrastructure Partners’ prospective US$3.5 billion investment in Woodside’s Pluto LNG Train 2, which would enable development of the highly polluting Scarborough gas field.