ANZ has assured its customers that bold new emission reduction targets won’t affect Mum and Dad farmers.
ANZ Chief Executive Shayne Elliott made his position clear after several politicians questioned the bank’s new policy and its potential impact on Australian agriculture. During its results announcement earlier this month, Mr Elliott outlined the banks new strategy to encourage its 100 largest carbon-polluting customers to reduce their emissions.
Mr Elliott said that the bank would work with customers in energy, transport, building, good and agriculture to “establish or strengthen low carbon transition plans”.
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud hit back at the CEO, claiming policy and morality issues should be decided by the government.
“Banks are not, and should not try to become, society’s moral compass and arbiter – the Australian people decide that by who they elect,” said Mr Littleproud said.
“We can’t let unelected, profit-driven financiers from Pitt Street dictate to society how to produce food and fibre or how we run our economy,” he added.
Michael McCormack, the Deputy Prime Minister, agreed with Mr Littleproud, accusing the ANZ bank of “virtue signalling”.
“The banking sector’s entire focus should be on supporting our agricultural producers, not adding an extra layer of administration. Transport, fertiliser and fuel companies snared by these new rules could have no choice but to pass on costs along the agricultural supply chain, only to have farmers pick up the bill at the end.”
Mr Elliott hit back at his opposition, saying that the ANZ’s position would only affect the bigger players in each industry.
“I know some farms in Australia are pretty big but I’d be really surprised if the 100 largest emitting customers included mum and dad farms. So no, it’s not going to impact them,” Mr Elliott said.
“We’re working with the really, really big food manufacturing companies, all of whom, in our experience, are fully engaged in that conversation. It’s just about us working together around a just transition, and a transition towards that lower carbon future.”
ANZ’s position mirrors that of many agricultural industry bodies including the National Farmers’ Federation.
The NFF has set a net-zero emissions target for 2050, gaining an endorsement from GrainGrowers. The red meat industry has also agreed to meet a net-zero goal, by 2030.
David Heath, Director of the Farm Institute said that far from moralising, agriculture’s response was based on the realities of business.
“It’s a result of having a cold hard look at the short-term business environment as well as a longer assessment of business sustainability that is driving the change,” he said.
During the results announcement, Mr Elliott also announced that ANZ would withdraw finance from thermal coal by 2030 and immediately cease funding new coal mines and power stations.
Sources: Sydney Morning Herald