In a significant escalation of scrutiny of the role of lobby groups in Australia’s long and unruly climate and energy policy debates, Westpac has agreed to review the Business Council of Australia’s (BCA) advocacy.
In response to the resolution filed by the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), Westpac said:
“As part of its annual reporting Westpac will set out principles for engagement with industry associations [including the BCA], and will commence a review of key industry association memberships in relation to our main areas of policy interest, including a focus on lobbying and advocacy related to climate change. Westpac expects to announce its full year results on 5 November 2018, with annual reporting to be released soon after.”.
As a result of Westpac’s decision, ACCR has withdrawn its resolution and will continue scrutinising all climate lobbying being done by industry associations in Australia including the BCA.
Brynn O’Brien, Executive Director of ACCR said, “This is a good result for Westpac and its investors.
“Financial membership of trade associations that undermine ambition on climate goals is fundamentally misaligned with Westpac’s interests. Adverse climate lobbying also comes with profound risks to long-term shareholder value.
“We are pleased that Westpac has acknowledged these risks and shown leadership in agreeing to implement a climate lobbying review.
“The BCA is one of the key lobby groups, backed by corporate Australia, that has spent the last decade or more hindering meaningful climate and energy policy.
“Lobby groups are accountable to their member companies and member companies are accountable to their investors. This is basic corporate governance.
“We commend Westpac making this commitment in the wake of the IPCC’s special report on the impacts of 1.5°C of global warming. This report is a clear warning to companies that they must reconsider their relationships with industry associations that continue to block effective climate action against the interests of members.”
Dan Gocher | ACCR | +61 410 550 337
Brami Jegan | Global Strategic Communications Council | + 61 448 276 945