Climate activist group puts pressure on big banks
(10 October 2019 – Australia) Three of the big-four Australian banks may be forced to enact a fossil fuel exit plan by as early as next year after having shareholder resolutions lodged with each of them by a climate change activist group.
Market Forces, an arm of environmentalist organisation Friends of the Earth, lodged the shareholder resolutions with Westpac, NAB and ANZ after the most recent figures showed each bank’s exposure to coal had increased year on year.
The resolutions call on the companies to "disclose in annual reporting from 2020 strategies and targets to reduce exposure to fossil fuel [oil, gas, coal] assets in line with the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, including the elimination of exposure to thermal coal in OECD countries by no later than 2030".
CBA was not targeted because it has already committed to exit the coal sector by 2030, and to limit its oil and gas lending to projects that are consistent with the Paris climate goals.
Market Forces also said the three banks had invested in new gas fields in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, and LNG infrastructure in the United States.
While Westpac and NAB declined to comments on the resolution, a spokeswoman for ANZ said the bank’s leadership had "made it unequivocally clear that the bank’s thermal coal exposure will significantly reduce over time".
"Since the Paris Agreement was reached, our exposure to thermal coal has decreased by 45 percent. This decrease in our exposures is consistent with the direction of the Paris Agreement, and we expect this trend to continue into the future," he said.