Banks donating to the cause of environmental preservation is always something to be optimistic about, but a new report reveals how funded conservation efforts are more disjointed and counterproductive than they seem.
In December 2015, 195 countries adopted the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal, which aims to limit warming to below 2C (36F) and strive to keep temperatures at 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Support for a more sustainable planet naturally came pouring in, with banks and billionaires worldwide answering the call to fix the planet of damages industrialisation had brought.
At least that is what they appeared to be doing. Market Forces, an affiliate project of Friends of the Earth Australia, released an analysis that placed large banks such as ANZ and Westpac at the forefront of the fossil fuel industry’s funding, lending $5.6 billion with Commbank and NAB since the climate summit in Paris. This dwarfs their contributions to renewables during the same period, which is just $1.5 billion in total.
Cut at the Source
Julien Vincent, a Market Forces campaigner, said the report left ‘no doubt that Australia’s big banks are the linchpin of major fossil fuel projects in Australia’. His group has long advocated for the citizens’ cessation of support for environmentally negligent banks, be it in the form of personal accounts, business accounts, stock holdings, personal loans or otherwise.
‘With the big four involved in three-quarters of the deals to take place in the sector, it’s highly unlikely that any major polluting project could go ahead without their investment,’ Vincent adds.
One can hope these banks reconsider, especially since they each made an overarching commitment to the 2-degree climate goal before the Paris summit. Being true to one’s word is crucial to building trust – an attribute every bank has to possess. It just happens that trying times for the planet have made a commitment to sustainability another one of those crucial attributes.