Big four lend $35.5b to coal, oil, gas since Paris Agreement

9 July 2020

The big four banks are pursuing at least 33 new or expansionary fossil fuel projects, with the Commonwealth Bank and ANZ being the worst, since the Paris Agreement was signed in late 2015, according to Market Forces.

The activist organisation said these projects were expected to release an additional nine billion tonnes of CO2 over their lifetimes and had together loaned $35.5 billion to coal, oil and gas industries since 2016.

“This is enough to cancel out Australia’s planned emissions reduction (2021-2030) 21 times over, if we assume the Australian government does not use dodgy Kyoto carryover credits to achieve this target (or approximately 520 times over if the accounting trickery is factored in),” it said.

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It said CBA and ANZ were “clearly the worst” with each lending to projects that would enable emissions equivalent to nearly eight years of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions in 2019.

“ANZ continues to have by far the worst lending ratio of the big four, providing $5.49 to fossil fuels for every dollar loaned to renewable energy. CommBank’s lending ratio of $3.73:$1.00, while much lower, is still completely inconsistent with its promise of ‘playing our part in limiting climate change in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement’,” Market Forces said.

“Westpac has loaned $2.70 to fossil fuels for every dollar loaned to renewables since 2016. And while NAB’s fossil fuels to renewables ratio was the best of the big four banks, it still favoured dirty power sources. What’s worse, its ratio has tipped further towards fossil fuels since we last conducted this comparison 12 months ago.”

However, it noted that both ANZ and CommBank had reduced lending to expansionary projects from 2018 to 2019, while both NAB and Westpac increased such lending.

“The big four banks often point to renewable energy lending as a defence when challenged over their colossal financing of fossil fuels. But lending to renewables does not excuse or cancel out funding for dirty alternatives. Every dollar to fossil fuels locks in more harmful emissions, for which there is no room for in a Paris-aligned economy,” it said.

Market Forces noted that despite their Paris Agreement commitments, the big four had loaned nearly three times as much to fossil fuels as renewable energy since 2016 to 2019.

“Renewables counted for just $12.6 billion of their total lending compared with $35.5 billion for fossil fuels.

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