Contributed by Ben Wilson
The campaign to shame Westpac, into withdrawing any support to finance the Adani Carmichael Mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin, has achieved a stunning victory.
Westpac has not only announced that it was not going to fund Adani, but that it has adopted a policy against fossil fuels, recognising that global warming is one of the gravest threats we face. Lending is going to restricted to that portion of coal that ranks in the top 15 percent for cleanliness. This rule out the Galilee Basin.
The policy also commits Westpac to actively reduce the emissions of the power generation sector and to support a price on carbon, as well as a transition to a “net zero-emissions economy.”
The blow to the Adani project is massive. It signals that banks are becoming increasingly worries about been caught up and angering their customer base.
Ruling out Adani is significant, because the mogul had already secured finance through Westpac to build the Abbott Point Coal Terminal.
The federal government, which has not hidden its support for Adani and the fossil fuel industry is furious. Resources Minister Matt Canavan, who described Westpac as a pack of “wimps”.
“Corporations are wimps these days in standing up these (environmental) activists,” he claimed.
The Turnbull government has been left in a dilemma. It has already committed $1 to Adani’s project and it is understood that Adani’s request for more is being considered. With Westpac pulling out and the other of the three big banks pulling out, the pressure will be on whether more taxpayer dollars will be committed or an alternative source of funding will be found.
Lenders are likely to be wary of setting foot into a political quagmire that is going to be bad for business, and it is certain that Indigenous communities and environmental activists will bring the message home.
The win will add new strength to broader campaign to put an end to coal mining in Australia and the associated dirty power industry.
As one of the world’s biggest exporters of fossil fuel, Australia is responsible for inflicting a significant carbon print on the planet and is a contributor to global warming. There is a responsibility to the world to stop doing this.
There is also no way of getting around that the whole of Australia’s economy needs to move towards being carbon free. Stopping dependency on fossil fuels, will help to open the way for the application of a whole range of technologies that operate more efficiently than many of the ones being currently used.
The sooner the change occurs, the less the cost and the greater the economic, social and environmental advantages.