Westpac withdraws coal mine support in new Climate Change Action Plan

By Roisin Kelly-Goldsmith ·

Westpac has today announced it will scale back support for companies who contribute too much to climate change, effectively ruling out funding the Adani Group's controversial coal mine in Queensland.

This comes after activists have been campaigning against Westpac’s alleged financial support for the coal mine situated near the Great Barrier Reef, which according to researchers is the second worst affected underwater ecosystem by coral bleaching in the world. Until today, three out of the four big banks had publicly distanced themselves from the coal mine.

“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,” said the major bank’s CEO, Brian Hartzer.

“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.”

Federal Resources Minister, Matt Canavan, told the media in an unrelated press conference today that he’s disappointed to hear about Westpac’s coal mine backflip.

"Corporations are wimps these days in standing up to these activists," he said. "It is disappointing Westpac has made this decision without consultation with the people of northern Queensland."

Protesters have been making headlines recently for vandalising Westpac ATMs with posters as part of a campaign dubbed “Don’t Bank on Coal”.

Those involved would be happy to hear that Westpac’s new climate change policy has placed tighter financing restrictions on coal mines and set a new target to reduce the bank’s carbon footprint.

“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,” Hartzer added.

As well as being Australia’s oldest bank, Westpac has continued to rank as the most sustainable bank in the world in the Dow Jones Index nine times in a row, with its new Climate Change Action Plan expected to keep its place in 2017.