NAB Coal, Renewable Energy Commitments Criticised 

NAB - coal and renewables

National Australia Bank’s latest Sustainability Report indicates a greater focus on renewable energy and less on coal. But some of its commitments have drawn criticism from both sides of the climate change debate.

Among the commitments mentioned in Sustainability Report 2019:

  • Boosting NAB’s environmental financing from $55bn to $70bn by 2025.
  • Increasing its renewable energy objective for company operations from 50% to 100% by 2025.
  • Becoming a member of the RE100.
  • An end to financing new or material expansions of current coal-fired power generation facilities unless technology is in place to materially reduce emissions.
  • Capping thermal coal mining exposures at current levels.
  • Reducing thermal coal mining financing by 50% by 2028 (intended to be effectively zero by 2035).
  • NAB will not take on new-to-bank thermal coal mining customers.

Back in 2017, NAB said it will no longer finance new thermal coal mining projects.

With regard to power generation, the report states renewables now represent 69% of its exposures, up from 43% in September 2015.

  • Wind: 29%
  • Hydro: 14%
  • Other/mixed renewables: 26%
  • Mixed fuel: 16%
  • Coal: 2%
  • Gas: 13%

So, on the electricity generation side of things, coal is only a bit player.

According to NAB, its current global portfolio of renewable energy projects represents a total of 10,516MW of generation capacity. This year NAB financed 2,520 MW of installed renewable energy generation capacity; including support for wind and solar energy projects in Australia, US and the UK.

Craig Kelly Cranky

Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly was not impressed with NAB’s “blackballing” of thermal coal mining.

“It appears the NAB are fighting to the bankers of the crazies at Extinction Rebellion,” said Mr. Kelly.

I assume he meant to state “to be”.

Also on NAB and Australian coal generally, he stated:

“Anyone with half a brain understands that if stops it’s thermal coal exports, countries like China and India will only use more of their low quality domestic coal and Co2 emissions will rise,” he said. “But NAB’s policy doesn’t start until 2035, and is simply virtue signalling so the climate crazies will bank with them.”

It’s interesting Mr. Kelly has shown some concern over rising CO2 emissions.

If Australian coal was taken off the menu, this would push the price of coal up generally, making renewables even more attractive. The use of low quality coal will also put increasing pressure and focus on the countries that do so in relation to their part in addressing climate change.

The “they will use low quality coal” reasoning is getting a bit old. It’s a bit like selling a drug-addicted colleague “good quality” ice so they won’t go and buy it off the street – instead of trying to get them into rehab. This enabling behaviour just allows the addict to continue on a course of self and wider destruction. Good quality coal (or ice) or not, it still wreaks havoc.

Market Forces: “Little More Than Greenwash”

Environmental finance group Market Forces was also unhappy with NAB’s commitments.

“The commitment to be out of thermal coal by 2035 is five years later than what Commonwealth Bank committed to earlier this year, and also five years later than OECD countries have been told we need to phase phased out coal-fired power completely,” it said.

The organisation was also skeptical of NAB’s commitment to boosting environmental financing to $70bn by 2025, stating half of it is earmarked for mortgages for 6-star residential housing.

Market Forces’ analysis of NAB’s policy update can be found here.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. As the report above, does include reference to the CBA, I wonder whether the NAB, and/or any of the other major banks (other than the CBA) will match or better the deal of the CBA, mentioned at
    https://www.solarquotes.com.au/blog/commbank-solar-cashback-mb1173/

    Also, interest free loans being offered to existing mortgage holders, as supplements to existing mortgages, without any additional charges, to install domestic rooftop photovoltaic systems, up to a (panels) capacity of 6.6kW, would be also good for the environment, for the mortgagees’ long-term finances, and, for the reputations of the banks.

    And, if anyone from the NAB (or, any of the other major banks, INCLUDING the CBA), happens to read this, I ask for their response to my challenge to the banks.

  2. Daniel Debreceny says

    To be fair .. they may have existing loans for coal interests that end in 2035 ….

  3. Michael Bloch,
    You state:
    “Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly was not impressed with NAB’s “blackballing” of thermal coal mining.”

    Was there any mention from Craig Kelly about Sweden’s central bank selling off of bonds? Was he cursing them too?

    Reuters last week reports:

    “Sweden’s central bank said on Wednesday it had sold off bonds from the oil-rich Canadian province of Alberta and parts of Australia because it felt that greenhouse gas emissions in both countries were too high.”
    See: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-canada-bonds-sweden/swedens-central-bank-sells-off-bonds-from-canadian-province-over-climate-concerns-idUSKBN1XN2O9

    Bonds from Alberta, Canada and Queensland + Western Australia, issuers with a large, growing climate footprint have been divested. Perhaps other investors might get the same idea?

    Also, posted at the SMH online yesterday was an article by Peter Hannam which included:

    “Applying assessments used by the insurance industry to gauge how society’s exposure changes over time, the fire losses are also among the most severe for any season going back to the 1925-26 summer, according to consultancy Risk Frontiers.”
    See: https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw-fire-losses-mount-as-queensland-sets-record-adjusted-data-show-20191116-p53b6d.html

    It seems to me some business and finance are getting on with the job of managing a key financial risk, while climate science denial remains a core position with the ScoMo government.

    If bush-fire losses this year are already one of the highest on record, before the 2019-20 summer has even begun (per the SMH article), with global average temperature rise already at 1-1.1°C above pre-industrial age, then what will the fire seasons be like when the global average temperature inevitably reaches 1.5°C above per-industrial age (perhaps as early as 2030)? Does that mean insurance, particularly for bush-fire-prone areas will become unavailable or unaffordable?

    Perhaps Michael McCormack may find more than just so-called “inner-city raving lunatics” become “woke” to these issues? Perhaps McCormack’s constituency becomes aware that they are not being best served by him and the COALition?
    See: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-11-11/inner-city-raving-lunatics:-michael-mccormack-on-greens/11694044

    • Geoff,

      The move by Sweden’s Central Bank – (which broadly speaking is the equivalent of our Reserve Bank of Australia) to sell its holdings of bonds issued by Queensland and Western Australia State Governments has more significance than most would realise.

      A detailed article on https://www.sbs.com.au/news/climate-change-why-sweden-s-central-bank-dumped-australian-bonds

      gives some minor additional details of the reasoning behind their decision.

      Because of the critical role Central Banks play in a nations economy, their every action gets enormous attention.

      Right at the moment, I would hazard a guess that just above every other central bank, trading bank, lending institution, foreign exchange dealer and money market operator in the entire free world would be closely looking at their various portfolios and reassessing their investment and lending exposures to the entire Australian economy.

      Some time ago, I came across an academic research paper that examined whether or not ‘stupidity is contagious’, reaching the conclusion that it is.

      https://www.neatorama.com/2011/06/25/psychologist-stupidity-is-contagious/

      That June 2011 article seems to be the starting point for more recent analysis:

      If you use the search phrase ‘is stupidity contagious’ you’ll come across all kinds of current examples which indicate just how far ‘stupidity’ has spread in a mere 8 years since 2011 e.g.

      1) In 2018, only 66% of young people in the USA aged 16 to 24 firmly believe the earth is round, with the rest either not knowing or not caring

      2) 2% of all adults in the USA are convinced that the earth is as flat as a pancake.

      3) Gravity doesn’t exist, because nobody has ever seen it throughout the entire history of humanity

      It’s clear from the above that this ‘contagion’ has spread far and wide, reaching even the hallowed halls of high political office in many countries (not just our own), all the while increasing in its virulence.

      There is some circumstantial evidence around that suggests ‘contagious stupidity’ is now manifesting itself in Australia in the form of new OI (outright idiocy) and TI (total insanity) strains.

      There may as yet be no need to be overly concerned about this though, if this May 2018 article is any guide:

      https://www.cnet.com/news/the-bizarre-tale-of-the-australia-flat-earth-convention-that-fell-apart/

      To conclude, i don’t believe the Swedish Central Bank is ‘stupid’ – far from it. They are instead perhaps a real world example of being ‘the only sane person in the asylum’

      • Des Scahill,
        You state:

        “Right at the moment, I would hazard a guess that just above every other central bank, trading bank, lending institution, foreign exchange dealer and money market operator in the entire free world would be closely looking at their various portfolios and reassessing their investment and lending exposures to the entire Australian economy.”

        Indeed, because government regulators, superannuation funds and banks are taking a more intensive look at the risks of financing projects exposed to climate change.

        An op-ed published on Wednesday’s (Nov 20) SMH paper edition by Clancy Yeates includes:

        “Barrister Noel Huntley, SC, has said directors could face future lawsuits for failing to consider risks related to climate change, and the corporate watchdog last year said this interpretation appeared “legally sound”.”
        See: https://www.smh.com.au/business/banking-and-finance/morrison-s-attack-on-activists-left-out-one-crucial-fact-20191118-p53bke.html

        It seems directors of businesses are perhaps beginning to wake up to the prospects that they may become personally liable for any failure to consider climate risks – I’d suggest that tends to focus the minds of these elites.

        And thanks, Des, for your musings on “is stupidity contagious”? You may wish to read another op-ed in the same SMH paper edition by Chris Uhlmann where he includes a reference to “scotosis” – an inability to learn through painful insights. Uhlmann includes:

        “Everyone can be guilty of it; when pet theories collide with harsh reality, change can be almost physically painful. Happily, the 21st century provides myriad ways to ignore uncomfortable facts by curating your own truth.”
        See: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/no-trivial-matter-our-soul-at-stake-if-we-stay-silent-on-china-20191119-p53bwa.html

        Does it look familiar re “curating your own truth”? Trump, ScoMo, Taylor and Kelly come to my mind as members of a cohort of consummate practitioners.

        And IMO, so long as people aren’t too badly done by, many can’t be bothered noticing, challenging or denouncing shameless tricksters. No worries – she’ll be right, mate! Someone else’s drama … until it becomes your own too.

        IMO, ‘Contagious stupidity’ is a symptom of a dumbed-down society where critical thinking and common (or is it uncommon?) sense are seemingly becoming rarer occurrences. People need to be inoculated against ‘contagious stupidity’, otherwise I fear our society will not be able to mitigate effectively with the looming twin existential threats of dangerous climate change and sustained declines of critical global oil and gas supplies, and we descend into civilization chaos and collapse.

        I think more people are waking up to the notion that circumstances are changing … perhaps for the worse.

        Yesterday afternoon I rode the 3:30pm train from Lithgow heading towards Sydney. There was a relatively light smoke haze in Lithgow, but as the train emerged from the last of the 10 tunnels the scenery was seemingly apocalyptic with a weak red sun through an eerie smoke haze and visibility down to (in my estimation) about 1.5–2 km. A woman in the carriage I was in asked whether anyone knew where the smoke was coming from, and I suggested it was coming from the north from about 50 km away in the Wollemi National Park. She then asked what was being done to fight that fire and I suggested most of that area burning is too remote with very limited access to effectively control/suppress it. The woman then remarked at how dry the ground and vegetation looked outside and said she thought it was a scary situation considering summer was still to come. She left the train at Mount Victoria – Mt Vic sits atop a ridge surrounded by bushland. I suspect there are many people living next to bushland in many parts of Australia now watching the evolving fire season situation with increasing apprehension.

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