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Australia’s NAB faces shareholder pressure over environmental credentials

FILE PHOTO: The National Australia Bank logo is displayed outside the company's headquarters in central Sydney
FILE PHOTO: The National Australia Bank logo is displayed outside the company’s headquarters in central Sydney, Australia, August 4, 2017. REUTERS / David Gray / File Photo

December 17, 2021

By Paulina Duran

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s second-largest lender, National Australia Bank, defended its environmental credentials on Friday as investors at an annual meeting complained that their emissions claims are less complete than those of their Big Four competitors.

Nearly half of the questions posed to Chairman Philip Chronican at the meeting came from investors and shareholder groups, who said they were concerned about the bank’s reputation and the risks posed by funding industries. use a lot of carbon.

“Compared to us, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac both disclose their exposure to the energy value chain,” said shareholder Johanna Gardner.

She complained that the NAB instead disclosed only oil, gas and coal mining operations, without disclosing coal ports, oil and gas shipping, refining and retail distribution.

NAB does not disclose emissions from the entire value chain, but the Chronican denies the bank is a laggard, saying it is the only major Australian lender to put explicit restrictions on direct funding for green oil and gas exploitation activities.

It is also Australia’s only major bank that has set a target of reducing oil and gas exposure between 2026 and 2050 and is planning to publish an “emission intensity exposure plan” for eight sectors. over the next 12 months, he added.

“We should not make any commitments or disclose anything that we cannot support,” the Chronican told the virtual meeting from Melbourne.

“By this time next year, we should be able to please you by having a clear, coherent, and well-thought-out position… (and) ensuring that the position is fully controllable. can be checked.”

Chronican urged investors to reject a shareholder resolution calling for stricter environmental policies and disclosures not listed due to restrictions under Australian corporate law.

As a result, the resolution, which also required a firm commitment from the bank not to finance any fossil fuel projects at the request of the International Energy Agency, was rejected. It received 10.8% of the votes in favor before the meeting.

(Reporting by Paulina Duran in Sydney; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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Bobby Allyn

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