Chinese banks have been notified that several Australian-based coal export projects could be ineligible for credit under Chinaâ€™s Green Credit Directive. A letter from international banking sector watchdog BankTrack and Australian environment group Market Forces has been sent to eight major Chinese overseas lenders, highlighting an array of environmental and social impacts that would result from new coal export projects. It also profiles the corporate citizenry records of GVK and Adani, two Indian conglomerates who are both proposing new coal export projects.
Under the Green Credit Directive issued in 2012, Chinese banks are specifically obligated to strengthen and regulate the management of environmental risks for loans made to overseas projects. Chinese banks assess the environmental and social impacts of their loans, ensure clients uphold international norms, and have the power to deny finance, suspend and even terminate a granted loan in cases where major risks have been identified.
â€œAll too often, when banks are made aware of environmental risks to a project or industry, they lack a clear decision-making framework with which to assess those risksâ€, said Yann Louvel, Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator for BankTrack. â€œThe Green Credit Directive will help banks apply risk management procedures to some of the most environmentally damaging fossil fuel projects on the planet, and it is unlikely to be good news for coal project developers seeking finance.â€
A key issue raised in the letters was the threat posed by new coal export terminals to the Great Barrier Reefâ€™s World Heritage Status. The World Heritage Committee will consider placing the Reef on the â€œWorld Heritage in Dangerâ€ list in 2014, their concerns driven largely by the uncontrolled expansion of coastal development. Both GVK and Adani are attempting to reach financial close for their proposed coal export terminals â€“ which would be built in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area â€“ this year.
â€œNo bank will want to be known as a funder of the project that cost the Great Barrier Reef its World Heritage status. Hopefully the Green Credit Directive will ensure that this title will not end up with a Chinese institutionâ€, said Julien Vincent, Market Forces Lead Campaigner.
Research by Market Forces released in June showed that Chinese banks have provided almost AU$4 billion in loans to coal and gas export projects between 2008 and 2012. GVK had previously identified the China Exim bank as interested
in financing their Alpha Coal project, a 30 million tonne per year export coal mine, 500 km rail line and new coal export terminal at Abbot Point in Queensland.
A copy of the letter can be found at www.marketforces.org.au/GCDletter.pdf