The banks are shifting on climate. All big four banks have publicly committed to stop financing thermal coal by either 2030 or 2035, according to the Australian Conservation Foundation’s Economy and Democracy program manager, Matt Rose.
“The next step is to get out of gas and oil,” Rose says. “Together we have pushed the banks to step up, but a handful of politicians don’t like it and have launched a federal inquiry that could pressure the banks to keep their money in fossil fuels.”
That inquiry is the Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth’s inquiry into the prudential regulation of investment in Australia’s export industries.
According to its terms of reference, it will inquire into and report on: “the domestic and foreign investment opportunities and challenges for Australia’s export industries and their associated businesses, arising from changes in prudential standards and practices across banking, insurance and superannuation institutions, in addition to publicly-listed companies, with particular reference to: the existing and future contribution of Australia’s export industries; the investment guidance and advice provided by Australia’s financial regulators, including the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), to banking, insurance and superannuation institutions, and also to publicly-listed companies, in relation to investment in Australia’s export industries; the approach and motivations of our financial institutions, including banks, insurers and superannuation funds, as well as publicly-listed companies, to their investment in Australia’s export industries; the consequential impacts of (2) and (3): a) For legitimate. law-abiding businesses connected to Australia’s export industries; b) On regional and rural economies that are reliant on Australia’s export industries. particularly in light of the COVID-19 recession; c) Our national economy. particularly in light of the COVID-19 recession; and any other related matter.”
That’s quite a mouthful so let’s translate.
What are Australia’s main exports? It won’t surprise you to find out they are iron ore, coal and petroleum gas. So this inquiry is looking at ‘impediments’ to the big banks supporting those exports. It’s a knee jerk reaction from the current government which is big on coal and gas and pretty small on bright ideas for a sustainable future. The hoped-for outcome of this inquiry will be to change the prudential standards which may put pressure on banks to keep lending to big coal and big gas even though they know there’s no future in it.
“The banks need to know the community wants them to stay on track, to move their money out of fossil fuels altogether, and into climate solutions,” Rose says. We can’t let a few politicians slow them down.
“ANZ, Commbank, NAB and Westpac have all committed to exiting coal. Now let’s email them and ask them to take the next step for our climate and move their money out of gas!
“If we all speak up, we can remind the banks of the community’s demand for climate action, and send a message much louder and more influential than a handful of out-of-touch politicians.
“Because people spoke out in numbers, the big banks agreed to stop funding Adani’s polluting mine, and committed to stop lending money to coal companies.
“While the big four banks have said they’ll move away from coal, together they are currently funding gas and oil projects to the tune of more than $16 billion.²
“If we can push the banks to move on from gas, it will make things much tougher for the big polluters to build new gas projects. And it will add pressure on our governments to recover, rebuild and renew with climate solutions like clean energy, not gas.
“It only takes one bank to take climate action and create a domino effect. In 2019, Commbank became the first big bank to commit to stop lending to coal. Now, all big four banks have committed to quit coal!
“Take a few minutes now to send a quick email to one or as many of the big banks as you like, and ask them to keep moving their money out of fossil fuels that harm our climate.
“Fossil fuels like gas and oil are the biggest driver of climate damage, fuelling extreme bushfires, drought and floods. The big banks, together, control where a lot of money flows in the Australian economy. To move our economy beyond fossil fuels, we need the big banks to move beyond fossil fuels.
“It is imperative that we speak out now and encourage the banks to keep moving their money out of fossil fuels, especially gas.”
You can email the big four banks here.