Climate justice organisation 350 Aotearoa welcomes ANZ Bank’s announcement today to cut back its lending to the fossil fuel industry, but 350 Aotearoa Co-Director Erica Finnie said “without a comprehensive commitment to rapidly phase out all lending and investment to coal, oil, and gas companies, ANZ Bank’s announcement fails to live up to its commitment to the Paris Agreement that aims to limit global temperature increase to 1.5°C. The climate science is crystal clear: to meet the 1.5°C target we need to rapidly decline emissions every year, and any bank that invests in or lends to the expansion of coal, oil, or gas projects blows this out of the water.”
ANZ Bank’s announcement includes a commitment to immediately stop lending to new customers that derive more than 10 per cent of their revenue from thermal coal mining or generation, and for its existing customers, the bank will demand they reduce their revenue from thermal coal to 25 percent of total revenue by 2030. ANZ Bank’s screening of coal brings its policy in line with Westpac and Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the parent companies of Westpac New Zealand and ASB.
Finnie said “Banks have a powerful role in accelerating the transition away from fossil fuels and towards a zero-carbon future. Energy companies need finance for projects to go ahead, so banks can literally make or break new coal, oil, gas or renewable energy projects. Unfortunately, all of our big four Australian banks still lend more to fossil fuels than they do clean energy.”
“ANZ Bank markets itself as being a carbon-neutral bank that is committed to climate action, but its lending portfolio tells a different story. Since 2016, ANZ Bank has loaned over AUD$10 billion to the fossil fuel industry, over 5 times more than it has loaned renewable energy alternatives. It’s time for ANZ Bank to put its money where its mouth is by rapidly phasing out all fossil fuel finance and instead financing the low-carbon transition”, said Finnie
ANZ Bank has long been criticised for its lack of environmental responsibility. In October 2018, 350 Aotearoa groups took action at ANZ branches across New Zealand. The groups delivered copies of the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) report to branch managers, which outlines the impacts and feasibility of a 1.5°C warming scenario. The report makes clear that the difference between 1.5°C and 2°C of warming is life and death for millions of people, and any institution that continues to support new fossil fuel projects is knowingly contributing to untold suffering and devastation across the world.” In 2019, 350 Aotearoa coordinated a series of actions that exposed ANZ New Zealand’s direct sponsorship relationship with the fossil fuel industry.