Sydney, Australia: A group of Australian Civil Society (CSOs) sent an open letter to Minister Dan Tehan yesterday, calling for Australia to join governments worldwide who are moving away from using export finance to fund fossil fuel projects.
Organisations who signed onto the statement include: Jubilee Australia, Action Aid Australia, 350.org Australia, Australian Conservation Foundation, The Australia Institute, Edmund Rice Center and The Australian Religious Response to Climate Change.
The statement outlines how Australia lags behind global leaders on shifting export finance away from fossil fuels.
Australia's export credit agency, Export Finance Australia (EFA), still provides millions of taxpayer dollars in loans, insurance and guarantees for fossil fuel projects. Research soon to be published by Jubilee Australia has found that between 2009 and 2019, EFA provided more than $1.2 billion in financing for fossil fuel projects.
In addition, overseas export credit agencies (ECAs) have been huge investors in Australian domestically-produced fossil fuels for export—particularly gas. Japan’s ECA (JBIC), for example, is the largest financier of Australian fossil fuel exports. JBIC is currently considering providing money to Santos’ Barossa offshore gas project, which would be one of the world’s carbon-intensive gas projects.
The UK, US and several EU countries have, in the last couple of months alone, taken steps to end or restrict their Export Credit Agencies' investments in fossil fuels. It is also expected that Korea and Japan will make announcements in this area very soon.
Australia has traditionally been among the countries arguing against tougher rules limiting ECA support for fossil fuels at the OECD working group on export credits.
Luke Fletcher, Executive Director of Jubilee Australia, said:
This week, organisations and individuals around Australia are urging Australia to step up and do our fair share by committing to net zero by 2035 and commit to a green economy transition. While we strongly support this target on domestic emissions, Australia also needs to take responsibility for the emissions created when fossil fuels extracted here are consumed overseas.
Our coal and gas exports make us the third largest exporter of fossil fuels in the world, and many of these exports are financed by our own and overseas ECAs. If we don’t act now, EFA and foreign ECAs will funnel ever more money to build infrastructure for the Morisson government’s climate-wrecking gas-led recovery. This will be a disaster for the climate and will also leave us with stranded assets as our customers increasingly turn away from fossil fuels in the coming years.
We call on Australia to follow Britain’s example and direct EFA to stop all financing for fossil fuel-related projects. As a first step to this, Australia should join the Export Finance for the Future (E3F) coalition. We also call on Australia to stop blocking progress on climate discussions at the OECD working group on export credits.
Download the Open Letter: CSO Open Letter to Dan Tehan MP.pdf