World’s Biggest Coal Export Port Loses Funding Over Climate Change

February 9, 2021 Updated: February 9, 2021

ANZ will no longer fund the world’s biggest coal export port at Newcastle on the back of the bank’s new climate change policy that stops loans to the coal sector.

The Port of Newcastle, which supports 9000 jobs and contributes AU$1.5 billion to the national economy, will now receive funding by National Australia Bank (NAB) according to The Australian.

This comes under the agreement of a transition program for the port to diversify and become more sustainable.

The Port of Newcastle, co-owned by The Infrastructure Fund and China Merchants Port Holdings Company, aims to reach 100 percent renewable energy by the end of this year and transition all its vehicles to electric by 2023.

A Port of Newcastle said in a statement to The Epoch Times that sustainability was a core part of their business strategy and culture.

“We are working with responsible lenders who are interested in helping businesses like Port of Newcastle become more sustainable and diversify,” they said.

“This is crucial to a business that supports our local, regional and national economies.”

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Large coal stocks await loading for export at Port Waratah Coal Services on Newcastle, Australia, on April 12, 2007. (Corey Davis/Getty Images)

ANZ announced on Oct. 2020 their plan to support the Paris Agreement’s goal of transitioning to net zero emissions by 2050 (pdf).

It involves exiting all direct financing of any coal-fired power generation and thermal coal mines while reducing exposure to companies without transition or diversification plans by 2030.

The bank has already increased its direct lending to the renewable sector from $900 million in 2015 to $1.5 billion in 2020, or 60 percent to 87 percent of its power generation lending portfolio.

An ANZ spokesman did not comment on their decision to halt the funds and told The Epoch Times that they do not publicly discuss their customers’ specific details.

“Last year we released an updated Climate Change Statement that outlined how we will support our customers transition to net zero emissions by 2050, including engaging with our largest emitting business customers on their low carbon transition plans,” they said.

ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott said in a briefing last September that they would have massive concerns about the viability of businesses that are not considerate of the climate change goals.

“If we really don’t see an alignment of values, we would move to exit that customer over time,” Elliot said.

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CEO of ANZ Shayne Elliott speaks at the ANZ annual general meeting on Dec. 17, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Nationals senator Perin Davey told The Australian that the growing tendency of banks to prioritise climate change was against the national interest.

“The risk is that if our financial institutions move away from ­investing in higher-emitting industries that those industries will just seek finance offshore,” Davey said.

Agriculture minister David Littleproud slammed ANZ’s climate change commitment back in October, saying regional Australians should “reconsider using banks that impose crippling new carbon targets and penalties on Australian farming families and industries”.

“Banks are not and should not try to become society’s moral compass and arbiter,” Littleproud said.

“We can’t let un-elected, profit-driven financiers from Pitt Street dictate to society how to produce food and fibre or how we run our economy.”

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David Littleproud speaks during a press conference at Parliament House on January 05, 2020 in Canberra, Australia. (Rohan Thomson/Getty Images)

NSW energy minister Matt Kean echoed this sentiment, telling Sky News that as a private company, ANZ’s fiduciary duty was to their shareholders and customers, not managing the Australian economy.