December 19, 2013

NAB’s climate change position is hunky dorey, says Chairman

hareholders at NAB’s Annual General Meeting today can rest assured that the Bank’s position on climate change is hunky dorey.

Climate questions dominated the latter part of the AGM, eliciting the following responses from Chairman Michael Chaney:

1. The Bank is well aware of the risks of stranded fossil fuel assets and probably has a strategy to deal with this, but it’s not really appropriate to go into what that strategy is.

2. The Bank looks to the when deciding whether to involve itself in environmentally-sensitive (i.e. all) fossil fuel projects. If the government gives its approval, why then these projects must be ok (do we detect a distinct sense of de ja vu, after ANZ’s AGM yesterday?)

3. The Bank understands and is managing the reputational risks associated with its lending to coal and gas export ports in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, noting that the projects it has financed are not actually in the Reef but on the coast (after all, that makes a world of difference). Again, shareholders were not made privy to this reputational risk management strategy.

4. Despite analysis from Citi, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Bernstein, and more other pointing to an ongoing structural decline in global coal markets, NAB believes coal has a critical role to play in the world’s current and future energy mix. Moreover, the Bank incorporates coals risks into its decision-making matrix but, again, it’s best if shareholders don’t know what that actually means.

5. Finally, gas is a vital solution to climate change.

If you buy this rosy-outlook, it’s no surprises that, since 2008, NAB has loaned over $1.4 billion to coal and gas export projects along Australia’s eastern seaboard, half of these projects within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Heritage Area.

An 80-year old retiree leaving the AGM wasn’t so sure, commenting that “it’s good to see that environmental issues dominated the meeting – these are big risks for the Bank.” And he hadn’t even read a copy of this flyer.

If you’re an NAB customer or shareholder and Chairman Chaney’s remarks ring alarm bells, then click here to learn more and take NAB to task over its fossil fuel lending.