The banks driving sustainable finance in 2020

The banks driving sustainable finance in 2020

Australia is experiencing unprecedented bushfires across multiple states, and there are still two months of the Summer season left. Whilst many organisations have been helping victims and volunteers with donations, the economic and environmental impact is far-reaching.

The economic cost of the fires to the Australian economy has already topped $2 billion, and these fires show no sign of slowing down. Sadly, it’s likely this figure will continue to rise. This estimated cost has been calculated using elements already measured by the government, including income from tourism, retail and agriculture.

However, as Michael Pascoe points out, we seem to be forgetting the wider cost of these fires. “The half-billion animals reportedly killed and the many millions of trees – what were they worth?” Pascoe continues, “Clean water, clean air, sustainable ecosystems – all have massive value, obvious value to most people, but do we price them in our budgeting?”

The simple answer from a governmental perspective is no. As it stands, current accounting methods and standards cannot capture environmental impact. However not all is lost, as organisations lead the charge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote sustainable finance.

In fact, there is a banking initiative in the Australian financial industry that is working to align our finance sector, and follow in the footsteps of the EU’s High Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance and the UK’s Green Finance Taskforce.

Introducing the Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative (ASFI)

Born from industry discussions at a United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) event in 2018, the Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative (ASFI) is the first of its kind in Australia.

The ASFI released its first progress report on the 11th December 2019, and has confirmed in this report that it will next produce an interim report, which will form the basis for the Sustainable Finance Roadmap, to be delivered in 2020.

This roadmap is to ensure the financial industry supports greater social, environmental and economic outcomes in Australia. It’s to allow the sector to transition to a more sustainable economy, consistent with global goals including the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Since launch, the initiative has received financial support from Bank Australia, Australian Ethical Investment, Cbus, Insurance Australia Group, QBE Insurance Group, National Australia Bank, ANZ, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac Banking Corporation.

The ASFI has adopted a collaborative process that is overseen by a Steering Committee of both members and observers. This committee consists of senior financial services, academic and civil society representatives.

Members include the likes of Emma Herd, Investor Group on Climate Change CEO; Sarah Barker, Head of Climate Risk at Minter Ellison; and Dr John Hewson AM, the Chairman at the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia. Observers feature Eric Usher, Head of the UN Environment Program Finance Initiative; Geoff Summerhayes, Executive Board Member of Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), and Executive Leaders from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

Find the full list of steering committee members and observers here.

What is sustainable finance?

The term sustainable means “able to continue over a period of time.” Sustainable finance is about ensuring the financial sector survives the impact of climate change.

The ASFI states that “the health, sustainability and stability of our economy is inextricably linked with the health, sustainability and stability of our people, society and the natural systems on which we all depend.”

By actively realigning the systems that underpin the Australian economy to support the natural ecosystem, the ASFI and other organisations can ensure Australia continues to prosper in the 21st century and the centuries that follow.

Banks start to refuse fossil fuels

Sweden's Central Bank (Riksbank) made headlines late last year when it decided to take action against countries with high Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions.

Australia was one of these countries, and Riksbank sold the bonds it owned from Western Australia and Queensland. It also took a stand against Canada, selling the bonds it owned in the oil-rich province of Alberta.

Goldman Sachs followed suit, not by selling bonds, but by developing and sharing a new environmental policy. A policy that accepted climate change as a scientific fact, and outlined that it would no longer finance new drilling for oil in the Arctic.

Responsible banking in Australia

If you’re looking to reduce your financial carbon footprint, there are many lenders going green in support of eco conscious spending.

Green personal loans are also becoming popular as they help Australians update their homes with solar panels, energy efficient hot water systems or other renewable energy products to reduce GHG emissions.

However, one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint is by supporting banks that do not invest in the fossil fuel industry.

Bank Australia, for example, refuses to invest in fossil fuels, intensive animal farming, live exports, gambling, arms or tobacco companies. It also has a Responsible Banking Policy, published online, and the bank is focused on using money customers deposit to support people, community organisations and businesses.

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Learn more about bank accounts

Can I find my bank account number online?

Yes, you can find your bank account number by logging into your online banking and clicking on the relevant account.

How do you open a bank account under 18?

If you’re under 18 and you want to open an Australian bank account, you will need your passport or birth certificate. (Some lenders might require just a Medicare card or driver’s licence.) You can apply online or at a branch. If you’re 13 or under, you will probably need a parent to accompany you to a branch.

Can you open a bank account at 16?

Yes, you can open a bank account at 16, or even younger. If you’re 13 or under, you will probably need a parent to accompany you to a branch.

Which bank is best for business accounts?

Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer to the question of which bank is best for business accounts. That’s because ‘best’ will differ from customer to customer, depending on their unique circumstances. These include not only your company’s financial position, but also its size, its age and the sector in which it operates. Another factor to consider is what features you want in a bank account. Your business may require different features than another business; and your business may require different features tomorrow than it does today.

The best thing to do is to thoroughly research the market before opening a business account. And when you do open an account, you should reassess your options every year or two, because the market moves quickly. A particular bank might offer the best account today, but be surpassed by one or several rivals tomorrow.

How can I wire money to a bank account?

You can wire money to an Australian bank account either through your own bank or by using a money transfer company such as Western Union or MoneyGram. Either way, you’ll need the other person’s name, BSB number and account number. If you use a money transfer company, you might also need to provide the recipient’s address for large payments.

What do I need to open a company bank account?

To open a company bank account, you will probably have to provide 100 points of ID, an ABN and an ACN. You will probably have to provide the details of all signatories as well.

How do you deposit change into your bank account?

One way to deposit change into your bank account is to visit a branch. Many lenders will also allow you to deposit your change through one of their ATMs.

How can I deposit cash into my bank account?

The traditional way to deposit cash into your bank account is to go to a branch and give it to a teller. These days, many banks will allow you to make deposits through an ATM as well.

How can I check my bank account balance online?

Checking your bank account balance online is a simple process. Once you’ve logged in to your online banking, clock on the relevant account and the balance should be visible.

Can you get a payday loan without a bank account?

Yes. Some payday lenders are willing to transfer loans to prepaid debit cards instead of bank accounts.

Can foreigners open bank accounts in Australia?

Many Australian lenders allow foreigners to open bank accounts in Australia. Often, this can be done before you arrive in the country – with no Australian address required. When you get to Australia, you can pick up your debit card, using your passport as identification.

Do you need a bank account to sell on eBay?

You don’t need a bank account to sell on eBay. But if you don’t have a bank account, you must provide either a credit card or debit card.

Can foreigners open bank account in Australia?

If you’re migrating, studying or working in Australia, you’ll be pleased to know that you can open an Australian bank account. For the most part, opening a bank account in Australia is a simple process which starts by comparing the types of bank accounts foreigners can open in Australia.

Once you’ve found a bank account that suits your needs, you can start the application process.

When you apply for the account, you’ll need to provide proof of ID which may include your passport, overseas ID or credit card. You may also need to provide a copy of your visa and proof of address in Australia.

Depending on the bank and the type of account you choose, you may be able to apply for the account online or over the phone before you arrive in Australia.

Can I start a bank account online?

Yes, most lenders that operate in Australia will let you set up a bank account online. The process is usually simple and takes five to 10 minutes. You will probably need to provide a passport or birth certificate, as well as a driver’s licence, Medicare card or another form of secondary identification. Requirements differ from lender to lender, so some institutions might ask for more or different forms of ID.