How Australia's big four banks use your money to fund polluting power.
As global warming becomes more urgent, most of us are doing our bit to help avert the crisis – we're changing light bulbs, recycling, swapping our car for our bike and even installing solar panels on our rooftops. We're comforted looking towards our bank, as it wins sustainability awards and promotes its "carbon neutrality", to know that it's also doing its part.
Shamefully, this isn't the case. A recent report commissioned by Greenpeace, Pillars of Pollution: How Australia's Big Four Banks Are Propping Up Pollution, reveals the extent to which Australia's big four banks are investing in polluting coal power – and they're using your money to do it.
These banks spend huge amounts of money and time trying to sell themselves as socially responsible and environmentally sustainable companies. But if they continue heavily investing in polluting power, it doesn't matter how many trees they plant, envelopes they recycle or green lightbulbs they install – the damage caused by their coal investments is already too great.
Burning coal is the single biggest contributor to global warming. It affects us all by polluting the air we breathe and the water we drink. It's damaging our health and our economy. By investing so heavily in polluting power, the banks are forgoing the opportunity to invest in a future built on clean, reliable, renewable energy. This is not just a lost investment opportunity; it is also a lost opportunity to create jobs, cleaner air and a safer climate.
As the report reveals, it is clear that the banks have a choice. They don't have to make these destructive investment choices in order to get a good return on their – or should we say, your - savings.
Last year, for the first time, more investments were made globally in renewable energy than in fossil fuels. US $140 billion was invested in renewable energy compared to US$110 billion in gas and coal power. These figures show a significant shift worldwide to move away from polluting coal and gas and towards a clean energy future.
As a customer of ANZ, Commonwealth, National Australia Bank or Westpac, you have a right to know what the banks are doing with your money – they're using it fund the expansion of the coal industry.
Instead of investing in more pollution, the banks could drive the energy revolution forward. The first step they should take is to oppose the twelve new coal power stations that are on the drawing board for around Australia.
The second step they should take is to invest in building a vibrant renewable energy industry in Australia. So tell your bank to stop using your money to fund the polluting coal industry, and instead, create a better future with cheap, reliable, clean energy.
Want to know exactly how your money is being used? Our expert's report looks at every loan the banks made to the coal industry in the past five years. Use the viewer below to view the 8 page report or download a copy now.