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‘Carbon bomb’: Westpac, National Australia Bank under fire for bankrolling Woodside, BHP’s Scarborough LNG

Anti-gas sentiment remains across Australia as banks continue to invest in farming the resource.
Anti-gas sentiment remains across Australia as banks continue to invest in farming the resource. Credit: AAP

Bankers have been accused of “industrial-scale greenwashing” by financing a huge new gas field.

But National Australia Bank and Westpac insist they’re on board with the global push for net-zero emissions.

Woodside and BHP signed a $16.5 billion offshore LNG joint venture in November, which will cement another 30 years of gas exports from Australia.

Woodside has now completed the sale of a 49 per cent stake in the infrastructure that will process the new gas onshore at a $5.6 billion expansion of the existing Pluto facility near Karratha in the Pilbara.

The developers say the eight million tonne per annum Scarborough project will be among the lowest carbon intensity sources of LNG for North Asian customers, with its 11.1 trillion cubic feet of gas.

The first LNG cargo from Pluto Train 2 is targeted for 2026.

Investor activist organisation Market Forces says some of Australia’s biggest banks are funding a “carbon bomb” on the scale of 15 heavy emitting coal power stations spewing out pollution for three decades.

Campaigner Jack Bertolus said the “industrial-scale greenwashing” also poses unacceptable risks to fragile marine life and irreplaceable Murujuga Aboriginal rock art, which is under consideration for World Heritage Listing.

Ethical investors – big and small – are looking for genuinely sustainable and environmentally friendly places to put their capital.

Lenders and industry are keen to oblige.

“Climate action is everyone’s job. NAB wants to be part of the solution. We fully support net zero by 2050,” NAB has said as a member of the global Net Zero Banking Alliance.

Some groups, including Market Forces, are being given a seat at the corporate table to share concerns.

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