The big four banks’ end of year reports show none of them are doing enough to address the climate crises, with ANZ lagging the furthest behind.

Australia’s big four banks - ANZ, Commbank, Westpac and NAB – manage billions of dollars in assets and finance many of the country’s biggest and boldest projects. They have the unique power to direct billions into climate solutions like renewable energy from the sun and wind – and away from the polluting industries worsening the climate and biodiversity crises. 

Yet, the big four are still backing new coal, oil and gas projects and expansions. As some of the largest companies operating in Australia, the decisions that banks make this critical decade have enormous stakes for all that we love – our magnificent reefs, rivers, animals, ecosystems and current and future generations.

In recent weeks, all four banks have released their full year results providing a window into their lending to coal, oil and gas, compared with renewable energy. 

ACF’s analysis shows that, despite the big four banks committing to net zero by 2050, their lending is way out of line with the urgent action needed this decade to limit warming to 1.5 degrees. And according to its most recent full-year results, ANZ in particular is heading in the wrong direction.

ANZ - the biggest climate laggard


Fossil fuel to renewable energy net lending ratio


$4.77 to fossil fuels for every $1 in renewable energy


$1.36 to fossil fuels for every $1 in renewable energy


$1.05 in fossil fuels for every $1 in renewable energy


$0.75 in fossil fuels for every $1 in renewable energy

ANZ says it is committed to supporting the transition to net zero by 2050, and also claims that it wants to be the leading bank in Australia and New Zealand in getting its customers to net zero emissions.

But according to its full-year results, ANZ’s funding to fossil fuels increased by 14% – driven by a $1.1 billion increase in its funding to oil and gas. 

While none of the big four banks have ruled out financing new fossil fuel projects or lending to companies involved in fossil fuel expansion, ANZ’s results now show it to be the only big four bank that lends more to fossil fuels than it does to renewables – and by a huge margin.

According to its own disclosures, the amount of finance ANZ makes available to fossil fuel projects is more than four times what it makes available for renewable energy projects. These figures are likely to be conservative, because ANZ only discloses money that it lends to individual mines or oil and gasfields, and not the far greater amount that it lends to companies as a whole. For example, Global Energy Monitor has found that nearly 80% of finance for new coal mines is in the form of loans to companies rather than individual projects.

Research by Market Forces reveals that in the five years following the historic 2016 Paris climate agreement, ANZ loaned $14 billion to fossil fuel companies

Earlier this year, ANZ joined a banking syndicate to lend US$1.2 billion to Woodside, whose enormous Scarborough offshore gas drilling project would put pygmy blue whales at risk from impacts of seismic exploration and would lead to an estimated 1.37 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions – as much as six average coal-burning power stations or twenty million cars a year – for over 30 years.

ANZ says it aims to halve the emissions intensity of its electricity portfolio by 2030, but in the past two years it has increased by 47%. In contrast, Australia’s overall electricity sector emissions have fallen by a quarter since 2009.

So far, ANZ only has targets to reduce emissions in electricity and commercial buildings, and claims to be supporting companies towards net zero emissions. But as the United Nations expert group on net zero commitments by private companies made clear last week, companies cannot claim to be committed to net zero while they are still involved in fossil fuel expansion or deforestation, or relying on offsets for emissions that can be avoided.

It's time for ANZ to join the wave

ANZ’s actions stand in contrast to the global momentum shifting finance towards renewable energy. The IEA’s World Energy Outlook found the world may now be at a tipping point towards a clean energy future, with $1.50 spent globally on clean energy technologies for every $1 spent on fossil fuels. And as the Australia Institute’s Climate of the Nation report shows, a majority of Australians already want no new fossil fuel projects.

In recent years, public pressure on banks has led to stronger commitments to restrict the flow of money to fossil fuel expansions. And just as banks are starting to realise action on climate change is needed to prevent the economic harm caused by the impacts of climate change, momentum is building to stop banks financing the harm of our natural world.

Take Action

In the lead-up to this year’s Annual General Meeting at ANZ, sign our petition to urge ANZ to rule out financing fossil fuel expansions and align its lending to the goals of the Paris Agreement.


Jolene Elberth

Corporate Campaign Program Manager