The Australian Conservation Foundation has welcomed NAB’s increased transparency on its exposure to nature-related risk and urged the bank to set ‘no deforestation’ targets and attach relevant conditions to its loans to agribusinesses.

In NAB’s half-year results announcement today the bank has provided new information on its approach to climate-related and nature-related risks (see pages 107–115).

“Behind every agribusiness that clears wildlife habitat for cattle grazing is a bank loan or a mortgage,” said ACF’s corporate campaigner Jonathan Moylan.

“We know that around half (49.3%) Australia’s GDP has a moderately to very high direct dependency on nature, so banks need to be open about their exposure to the risk of financing nature destruction and set targets to minimise it.

“NAB’s announcement that it will assess water-related risks in its agribusiness portfolio is welcome, but as Australia’s dominant agribusiness lender, it should also assess, disclose and set targets to address biodiversity loss and end extinction and deforestation.

“NAB is yet to set targets for nature or disclose its impacts, risks and dependencies on nature on a portfolio-wide basis.

“Banks should not lend to agribusinesses without any conditions relating to deforestation.”

Despite NAB’s membership of the Net Zero Banking Alliance and targets to reduce its financing of oil and gas, NAB’s half-year results show no change in lending to oil and gas.

Recent analysis by a coalition of environment groups found since 2020 NAB had financed or refinanced $3.35 billion to companies that are building new fossil fuel projects, including Santos, Glencore and Whitehaven Coal. Around $837 million of this financing happened in the last reporting period.

This is the first time Australia’s biggest agribusiness lender has issued a major financial report since the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Agreement, which requires business to assess and disclose their nature-related risks.

Header pic by Martin Taylor

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