Leaked ANZ policy good news for climate

Secret plans for ANZ to cut thermal coal mining exposure by 75% by March 2024 have been leaked by internal sources today. This information is at odds with its climate change statement that was released in February 2019, which made no reference to reductions targets. The potential reduction in exposure to coal is welcomed by climate justice organisation 350 Aotearoa, that has been pressuring ANZ Bank to divest from fossil fuels and stop all lending to fossil fuel projects since 2015. 

350 Aotearoa Campaigner Claudia Palmer said “This move comes from many years of sustained public pressure on ANZ Bank to cut its ties with the fossil fuel industry. While it’s a step in the right direction, ANZ Bank needs to go further and put in place policies to end all finance to the industry that is contributing the most harm to the climate crisis.”

“We’re approaching the necessary and inevitable tipping point where finance to fossil fuels will go into a steep decline. It’s great to see ANZ making this shift as it demonstrates that fossil fuel assets are both highly risky financially, and morally bankrupt in the face of climate change,” said Palmer. But she claimed the bank still had a long way to go. “Ruling out coal is only a first step. If we have any chance of curbing temperatures to 1.5C, as scientists and frontline communities urge us, we cannot be funding new oil and gas projects like ANZ currently does”

According to a report released by 350 Aotearoa in November last year, ANZ loaned over AUD$7.4 billion to fossil fuel projects over two years (2015-2017). Included within ANZ’s loans were eight new overseas oil and gas projects, which equate to 2.8 billion tonnes worth of CO2. The emissions enabled from these projects alone, is four times New Zealand’s preliminary nine-year carbon budget. The leaked policy comes as a surprise as just last month, according to a new report by MarketForces, ANZ increased it’s exposure to fossil fuels by 9%. 

Palmer said “Most New Zealanders are deeply concerned about the impacts of climate change, and almost everyone has a bank account. Banks need to be responsive to the concerns of their customers. They can no longer hide behind closed doors when it comes to their lending policies.” 350 Aotearoa is calling for increased accountability and transparency when it comes to banks’ exposure to fossil fuel projects.

ANZ Bank has long been criticised for its lack of environmental responsibility. In May this year, 350 Aotearoa revealed ANZ was secretly sponsoring the Petroleum Club, a quarterly industry meeting in New Plymouth.