Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Westpac Bank pledges not to finance new thermal coal mines or projects in new coal producing basins

“However, for new thermal coal proposals we will:  Limit lending to any new thermal coal mines or projects (including those of existing customers) to only existing coal producing basins and where the calorific value for that mine ranks in at least the top 15% globally. We define the top 15% as having a specific energy content of at least 6,300 kCal/kg Gross As Received. This value is referred to as the Newcastle high energy coal benchmark.” [Westpac Bank, Climate Change Action Plan, April 2017]

Westpac Bank, media release, 28 April 2017:

* $10 billion target for lending to climate change solutions by 2020 and $25 billion by 2030.

* Tighter criteria for financing any new coal mines. Financing for any new thermal coal projects limited to existing coal producing basins and where the calorific value of coal meets the energy content of at least 6,300kCal/kg Gross as Received – i.e. projects must rank in the top 15% globally.

* Commitment to actively reduce the emissions intensity of the power generation sector, targeting 0.30 tCO2e/MWh by 2020.

* Continued commitment to a broad market-based price on carbon as the most efficient way to encourage emissions reductions at the lowest cost to the economy.
* Setting target to reduce Westpac’s direct footprint emissions (i.e., in our workplaces, across our branch network and IT operations) by 9% by 2020, and 34% by 2030.

* Building on our commitment to helping households become more climate-resilient, improving their energy efficiency, and reducing their environmental impact.

Westpac today released its third Climate Change Action Plan (PDF 1MB), as part of its commitment to helping limit global warming to less than two degrees.

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 has had a clear and consistent approach to climate change since releasing its first climate change statement almost a decade ago.

Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer said: “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.

  “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.

“In addition, we will limit lending to new thermal coal projects to existing coal producing basins only, and where the energy content of the coal ranks in the top 15% globally,” he said.

Westpac is also committing to help Australian households become more climate-resilient, improve their energy efficiency, and reduce their environmental impact.
Westpac was the first Australian bank to release a climate change statement in 2008, and was named the world’s most sustainable bank by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for the ninth time in 2016.

Westpac’s principles-based approach to climate change is summarised below. These principles are based on a scientific approach, building on the scenario analysis undertaken in 2016 as reported in Westpac’s 2016 Sustainability Report.
Our Principles
Our Actions
1. A transition to a net zero emissions economy is required
1. Provide finance to back climate change solutions 
2. Economic growth and emissions reductions are complementary goals
2. Support businesses that manage their climate-related risks
3. Addressing climate change creates financial opportunities
3. Help individual customers respond to climate change
4. Climate-related risk is a financial risk
4. Improve and disclose our climate change performance
5. Transparency and disclosure matters
5. Advocate  for policies that stimulate investment in climate change solutions  

To date it does not appear that the Adani Group has approached Westpac in relation to the Carmichael Mine and Rail Project in the Galilee Basin, Queensland.

It is noted that there is no firm guarantee that all Adani project infrastructure would be barred from financing through the bank – although so many people across Australia are hoping that such a prohibition exists.

Concerned citizens need to keep an eye on the ball, because it is possible that the Turnbull Government will begin to pressure Westpac concerning its firmer policy on climate change.

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