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Australia’s NAB is under shareholder pressure for its environmental credentials

Australia’s NAB is under shareholder pressure for its environmental credentials

The logo for National Australia Bank is displayed outside the headquarters of the firm in central Sydney, Australia. Aug. 4, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray/File Photo

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SYDNEY (17 December) – Australia’s second largest lender, National Australia Bank (NAB.AX), defended itself on Friday against criticisms from investors who felt that its emissions disclosures were not as complete as its Big Four counterparts.

Nearly half the questions asked Chairman Philip Chronican during the meeting were from investors and shareholder group members who expressed concern about the bank’s reputation as well as the risks associated with its funding of carbon-intensive sectors.

Johanna Gardner, shareholder, stated that “Comparable to us, Commonwealth Bank of Australia(CBA.AX), and Westpac (WBC.AX), both discloses their exposure to the oil value chain.”

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She complained that NAB was merely disclosing oil and natural gas extraction and coal mining exposures, but not to oil ports, refining or retail distribution.

NAB does not disclose emissions across the value chain. Chronican, however, denied that the bank was a laggard and said it was the only major Australian lender that had put clear restrictions on direct funding of greenfield oil-and-gas extraction.

It was also the only major Australian bank to have set a goal for reducing oil and gas exposures between 2026 and 2050. He said that the bank was also planning to publish “emissions intensity exposure plans” for eight sector sectors within the next 12 months. Read more

Chronican said that “we shouldn’t be making any commitments or making any disclosures we can’t support,” during the virtual meeting from Melbourne.

“By next year, we should be able satisfy you by having clear, coherent, and well-thought out positions… (and) making it fully auditable.”

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Chronican appealed to investors to reject a shareholder resolution calling to tighten environmental policies and disclosures. This resolution was not presented due to restrictions under Australian corporate laws.

The resolution, which also demanded a firm commitment of the bank not to fund any fossil fuel projects in accordance with International Energy Agency calls, was therefore rejected. It received 10.8% proxy votes of support prior to the meeting.

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Reporting by Paulina duran in Sydney; Editing and editing by Stephen Coates

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