Environment group and bushfire victims take aim at ANZ on climate change
4 February 2020 at 8:17 am
“It is illegal for someone to light a bushfire, and we believe it is illegal for companies to finance the burning of our common home,” Friends of the Earth says
Friends of the Earth Australia and three bushfire victims are teaming up to launch a claim against ANZ, accusing the bank of funding the climate crisis through its investment in fossil fuel projects.
The complaint, lodged under the guidelines of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), is taking action against the bank for failing to meet Paris Agreement reduction targets across its lending portfolio, and failing to disclose its emissions throughout ANZ sustainability reports and climate change disclosures.
The complaint said that if the bank was to meet Paris Agreement targets, divestment from fossil fuel industries, including a bank-wide ban on financing new coal-fired power plants, was required.
One of the co-complainants, Jack Egan, joined the claim after his coastal New South Wales home was destroyed in recent bushfires.
Egan said he was joining the climate case against the bank so Australians didn’t have to go through the fires again next year.
“We are not seeking damages or compensation from ANZ, I just want them to stop fuelling dangerous climate change,” he said.
Friends of the Earth said that since the 2015 Paris Agreement, ANZ has lent $8.76 billion to the fossil fuel sector and expansionary projects, making it the largest fossil fuel financier of the big four Australian banks.
Friends of the Earth’s legal officer, Emila Nazari, said it was unacceptable that the country was burning while ANZ continued to invest billions of dollars in “climate wrecking” projects.
“It is illegal for someone to light a bushfire, and we believe it is illegal for companies to finance the burning of our common home,” Nazari said.
“This case is one of many to come against climate criminals.”
The complaint is inspired by a successful case brought by Friends of the Earth Netherlands, Oxfam and Greenpeace against ING bank. Mediation following the complaint resulted in ING committing to measuring and disclosing its indirect carbon emission, and to begin steering its lending portfolio towards meeting the Paris Agreement’s “well-below” 2 degrees goal.
Friends of the Earth Australia said the Dutch case would set a strong precedent for a similar outcome against ANZ in Australia.
If an agreement cannot be reached through mediation, a ruling and recommendations to the government will be given within one year.