Biggest Australian Business Lender to Stop New Coal Mine Funding

(Bloomberg) -- National Australia Bank Ltd. pledged to stop funding new thermal coal mine developments and boost lending to renewable energy projects as part of global efforts to tackle climate change. 

“While we will continue to support our existing customers across the mining and energy sectors, including those with existing coal assets, NAB will no longer finance new thermal coal mining projects,” the nation’s largest business lender said in a statement on Thursday.

National Australia said it has created a A$200 million ($153 million) fund that lends money to existing renewable energy projects. It’s part of a new climate policy to be unveiled at the bank’s annual general meeting in Sydney on Friday, the Australian newspaper reported earlier.

Australia’s largest banks have been restricting lending to high carbon emitters as they face pressure from activists and shareholders to mitigate climate risks. They’ve ruled out financing Adani Enterprises Ltd.’s $16.5 billion thermal coal project in Queensland amid opposition from environmentalists who say it will increase carbon pollution and endanger the health of the Great Barrier Reef marine park in the state’s north. 

Read how economists say the Adani mine isn’t financially feasible

National Australia has arranged A$6.2 billion in loans for renewable energy projects since 2003, the fifth largest globally, the bank said in a statement. Renewable energy capacity in Australia is expected to more than double by 2030 as coal generation declines, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“We’re witnessing an emerging renewables economy,” said Mike Baird, the bank’s chief customer officer for its corporate and institutional arm. “We have seen tremendous growth in clean energy across our loan book.”

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