Community groups representing more than a million Australians have written to the heads of the big four banks, urging them to update their lending policies on oil and gas projects following the release of last month’s flagship International Energy Agency report.

The IEA report, Net Zero by 2050: A roadmap for the global energy sector, says gas demand will decline by 55% and there should be no new oil and gas fields approved.

Australia’s big four banks all support net zero by 2050 but have widely varied positions on financing gas projects.

ANZ maintains gas ‘has an important and widely recognised role to play in the transition to a low carbon economy.’ Westpac and the Commonwealth Bank have committed to accept new oil and gas customers only if they have clear strategies to align their activities with the Paris climate goals. NAB is believed to be reviewing its oil and gas lending policy.

The letter urges the banks to update their lending policies in light of the IEA net zero pathway and the latest climate science. The letter says this means banks should refuse to finance new oil and gas projects, and get out of existing oil and gas investments by 2030.

Australian Conservation Foundation CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said:

“Lenders that are serious about net zero by 2050 targets can no longer finance new gas projects in Australia – including those in the Beetaloo Basin, the Canning Basin, Narrabri and the Scarborough project and processing facility.” Australia CEO Lucy Manne said:

“Massive new fracking projects threaten our climate and the communities they operate in. If Australian banks want to be on the right side of history, they’ll rule out new investments in oil and gas projects, and exit their existing investments by 2030.”

ACCR Director of Climate & Environment Dan Gocher said: 

“The IEA has made it clear that we can no longer expand the fossil fuel industry if we are to limit global warming to 1.5C degrees. Banks that facilitate any further fossil fuel expansion from now on are putting at risk their customers, staff and communities.”

As at March 2021, ANZ had $6.7bn exposed through oil and gas extraction projects, NAB had $2.76bn exposed and Westpac had $2.3bn exposed. As of December 2020, CBA had $5.3bn exposed.

The groups behind the letter are Australia, Australian Conservation Foundation, Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, Australian Parents for Climate Action, Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Climate Council, Conservation Council WA, Environment Centre NT, Environment Victoria, GetUp, Greenpeace Australia Pacific, Nature Conservation Council of NSW, Queensland Conservation Council.

Read the letter to the banks

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