Westpac has announced its updated Climate Change Action Plan, which includes “tighter criteria” for financing new coal mines.
Financing for any new thermal coal projects are limited to existing coal producing basins only, and projects where the energy content o the coal ranks in the top 15 per cent globally.
The principles of the updated plan reflect a scientific, practical approach around lending to energy intensive and renewable sectors as well as reducing Westpac’s own carbon footprint.
“Westpac recognises that climate change is an economic issue as well as an environmental issue, and banks have an important role to play in assisting the Australian economy to transition to a net zero emissions economy,” CEO Brian Hartzer said.
“Limiting global warming will require a collaborative effort as we transition to lower emissions sectors, while also taking steps to help the economy and our communities become more resilient.
“As a major lender Westpac is committed to supporting climate change solutions that will drive the transition to a more sustainable economic model, and we have increased our lending target for this sector from $6.2 billion to $10 billion by 2020 and to $25 billion by 2030.
“At the same time we recognise that energy security is essential for the long term economic health of Australia.
“That is why Westpac is committing to actively reducing the emissions intensity of our exposure to the power generation sector over time, and we have a target to reduce this portfolio to 0.30 tCO2e/MWh by 2020.”
Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said at a media conference last week that Westpac’s decision is against the interests of Queensland.
“This decision is a decision against the interests of Queensland, against the interests of developing Northern Australia and it demonstrates that Westpac have, in this decision, turned their back on Queenslanders and the development of Queensland,” he said.
“We have an enormous opportunity in the Galilee Basin, an enormous opportunity as a country and as a state to develop the third major coal basin in Australia.
“We haven’t developed a coal basin for 50 years, nearly 50 years, in Australia. The last one was the Bowen Basin here in Central Queensland.
“The Galilee Basin alone could generate 16,000 jobs, they are the jobs figures submitted by six coal mines that have received approval by the Queensland Government and those job figures are modelled on their environmental impact statements.”