Today, Australian Bushfire victims and Friends of the Earth Australia launched a claim against ANZ under international law to hold the bank accountable for financing fossil fuel projects that contribute to climate change. The complaint demands ANZ divest from fossil fuels and recommends the Australian government develop regulations to ensure the banks are forced to align their investments with a 1.5C climate target.
Mr Egan’s car, fitted with the climate change sign, survived the blaze while the house was destroyed. Image Source: abc.net.au
Jack Egan, one of the co-complainants whose home in coastal New South Wales was destroyed in recent bushfires, said, “I’m joining this climate case against ANZ so we don’t have to go through these disastrous or worse fires every year. We are not seeking damages or compensation from ANZ; I just want them to stop fuelling dangerous climate change.”
Friends of the Earth’s Legal Officer Emila Nazari said ANZ “was Australia’s largest financier of fossil fuel industries, and has continued to invest billions of dollars in “climate wrecking projects” while bushfires raged across Australia.
Friends of the Earth Australia believe ANZ has breached the OECD Guidelines and is now taking legal action against the bank for:
- Non-disclosure of scope 3 (including lending) emissions throughout ANZ sustainability reports and climate change disclosures;
- Inadequate systems of due diligence and environmental management due to ANZ’s continued investment in fossil fuels and lack of policies to reduce investment in major fossil fuel industries such as coal, oil and gas; and
- Misleading the public and consumers by publicly supporting the Paris Agreement targets while continuing to invest in projects that undermine meeting those targets.
The Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA) Chief Executive Syeda Rizwana Hasan said, “We are supporting this case because fossil fuel projects financed by international banks like ANZ often have more emissions than Bangladesh, yet it is our people who are suffering from the flooding and famine caused by climate change.”
In 2017, a similar complaint was brought forward by Friends of the Earth Netherlands, Oxfam and Greenpeace against ING Bank, which resulted in the bank committing to stronger climate action.
According to a statement by Friends of the Earth Australia, “the Australian NCP will seek to mediate a solution between the parties. If an agreement can not be reached, a ruling and recommendations to the government will be given within one year”. Read Friends of the Earth Australia’s full statement here.
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Friends of the Earth, Economic Justice campaigner
A copy of the complaint can be found here.