Less than 24 hours after Germany’s Deutsche Bank ruled out lending to the controversial Abbot Point coal port expansion on the Great Barrier Reef, major international bank HSBC has followed suit, with Group Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver stating it “would be extraordinarily unlikely to go anywhere near” the project.
“Abbot Point is crucial to the export of coal from proposed mega mines in QLD’s Galilee Basin. It will involve the dredging and dumping of 3 milion cubic metres of seabed in the Reef’s world heritage waters, threatening dugong turtles and coral reefs,” said Felicity Wishart, from the Australian Marine Conservation Society.
Both HSBC and Deutsche Bank point to the lack of consensus between UNESCO and the Australian Government over the coal port expansion’s impacts on the World Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef.
These announcements follow a string of major company withdrawals from the Port over the past 2 years, including Rio Tinto in 2012 BHP in 2013, and Lend Lease and Anglo American in 2014.
Failure to expand the port means that $26 billion worth of coal projects will be left hanging in the balance – a situation that environmentalists are heralding as a major win for the Reef, local communities and the climate.
Environment Groups are now stepping up their pressure on Australia’s Big Banks to follow the international banks’ lead. According to Market Forces research, Westpac and Commonwealth Bank have previously loaned over half a billion dollars to Reef port expansions.
“Australians are looking to our Big Banks to follow the sensible lead of the international banks and withdraw their support for coal port expansion projects that threaten the future of Great Barrier Reef,” Ms Wishart said.
Press Release, May 26, 2014