Time for financial institutions to bank climate change commitments

05.11.15 By

Australian financial institutions have an important role to play in national and global efforts to reduce carbon emissions, the Climate Council said today.

The Commonwealth Bank today publicly acknowledged that it must play a part in keeping global warming under 2°C, ahead of the UN Climate Conference in Paris. However, it is unclear exactly how this will translate into specific investment decisions on fossil fuels.

Climate Council Councillor Professor Will Steffen said investment in any new coal mines in Australia will undermine progress toward the 2°C goal.

“Burning coal for electricity is one of the key drivers of climate change. In order to limit global temperature rise to no more than 2°C the world must put a cap on how much coal is burned, and must take the measures needed to implement that cap.

“More than 90% of Australia’s known, extractable coal in existing reserves must stay in the ground if we are to have a reasonable chance of meeting the 2°C policy target.”

The Climate Council’s recent report into the world’s carbon budget showed that development of any coal mines in the Galilee Basin is incompatible with effective action on climate change.

“The bottom line is simple – existing coal mines will need to be retired before they are exploited fully, and new mines can’t be built. Financial institutions have a considerable role to play in this transition away from coal and into renewables,” Professor Steffen said.

“Investment decisions made now will determine how quickly new, clean energy sources, like solar and wind, can come online.”

The Climate Council is an independent, crowd-funded organisation providing quality information to climate change to the Australian public.

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