August 18, 2021

New analysis reveals one in five directors of the big four banks have ties to fossil fuels

New analysis from UK think tank DeSmog into the board makeup of Australia’s big four banks has raised serious concerns about systemic conflicts of interest, as the banks come under increased pressure to bring their lending portfolio in line with the IPCC and IEA’s warnings on fossil fuels.

The analysis comes as NAB weighs up its oil and gas lending policy, with a decision by the NAB board on a new policy expected imminently.

According to the DeSmog analysis published today:

  • 21% of the directors of the big four banks had past or current ties to the fossil fuel sector, through ties to oil, gas, infrastructure and electricity companies.
  • Comparison between the big four bank boards and the boards of major banks in the US, UK, EU and globally found that Australia had the second highest number of past and current ties to the fossil fuel industry after the UK (21% and 23% respectively).
  • When taking into account ties to all major polluting industries and the world’s largest financiers of fossil fuels, 79% of the big four bank directors have current or past ties that can be classified as “climate conflicted.”
  • Two out of nine NAB Directors have past or current ties to fossil fuel mining or energy.

According to Australia CEO Lucy Manne:

“The big four banks pay lip service to the Paris Agreement while continuing to pour billions into coal, oil and gas projects – this analysis raises questions about whether bank boards are holding up the transition to renewable energy due to ties to the fossil fuel industry.

“The IPCC report drove home that banks must stop financing fossil fuel companies and projects that are profiting from climate chaos.

“The IPCC and the International Energy Agency have been completely clear that there is no room for new coal, oil and gas projects if we are to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees – and the NAB board must heed the warnings when they sign off on the bank’s oil and gas lending policy.

“NAB has an opportunity to play a leadership role amongst the big four banks by being the first to set a policy in line with the recent IPCC and IEA reports, and rule out funding any new or expansionary oil and gas projects.”


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