National Australia Bank (NAB) is co-arranging a $2.4 billion loan for Origin Energy that is pursuing gas drilling despite the bank releasing a “transition-focused” oil and gas policy, according to Market Forces.
The advocacy group pointed to data that said the gas drilling in the Beetaloo Basin would emit up to 1.35 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) over its lifetime – 2.7 times Australia’s 2020 greenhouse gas emissions.
Market Forces Australian campaigns coordinator, Jack Bertolus, said: “Nothing could better illustrate the utter hollowness of NAB’s climate policy than arranging funds for a company opening up a colossal new fossil gas basin. It’s almost beyond parody.
“Clearly, the bank isn’t serious about net zero by 2050 and should either take genuine action or publicly withdraw its commitment to the goal.”
Market Forces said the bank could not directly finance greenfield gas extraction in Australia under its new policy unless it argued the gas “plays a role in underpinning national energy security”.
But the policy did allow the bank to continue funding projects “indirectly” by lending to firms that pursued them rather than the projects themselves.
Market Forces also noted that in August, NAB’s former chief economist, Rob Henderson said: “It’s high time that banks like NAB decided not to lend any more to new projects in fossil fuels”.
Last week, there were also reports NAB was arranging debt for Global Infrastructure Partners’ prospective US$3.5 billion ($4.76 billion) investment in Woodside’s Pluto LNG Train 2, which would enable development of the highly-polluting Scarborough gas field.