Saturday, December 2, 2023

Westpac sets GHG targets for ag borrowers

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Dairy farmers asked for a 10% reduction, and sheep and beef 9%.
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Westpac NZ’s livestock farming customers will need to meet 2030 emissions intensity targets, with dairy farmers being asked for a 10% reduction and sheep and beef 9%.

The bank said this is part of its strategy to future-proof its customers and its own business from the impacts of climate change. 

Westpac NZ general manager of institutional and business banking Reuben Tucker said the targets are for improvements in the emissions intensity of the bank’s lending, rather than outright reductions. 

“The world needs good-quality food and we want our agri customers to continue supporting production through their operations, but also to consider how they can do so more efficiently,” Tucker said. 

“New Zealand has some of the best farmers in the world. We want to help them stay ahead of the pack by future-proofing their businesses to deliver products that cater to the preferences of increasingly climate-conscious consumers in key export markets. We believe that efficient and sustainable farmers can do this and be profitable. 

“We know farmers have a lot on their plate at the moment. This is why we want to work together with customers to better understand the risks and opportunities, and ultimately set their businesses up to be more successful long-term. This means asking them to measure their emissions and share their information with us. Many of our farmer customers are doing this already.” 

Westpac NZ has already enabled more than $1 billion of lending through its Sustainable Farm Loan, launched in June. This product incentivises best farming practices, including developing emissions reduction plans.  

The bank has also commissioned the Westpac NZ Lincoln University Agribusiness Climate Change Report and the Journeaux Economics On-Farm Greenhouse Gas Mitigations report to provide customers with insights on how to build more sustainable and resilient farms. 

“We’re committed to supporting Aotearoa’s transition to a net-zero emissions economy and these targets are part of that,” Tucker said. 

“We encourage customers to get in touch with us if they have any questions or concerns about these targets – our bankers are here to help.” 

Westpac has commitments as part of the Net Zero Banking Alliance, which is a group of banks worldwide that have committed to supporting the transition to net-zero by 2050. 

As part of this, a member bank is required to set science-based emissions reduction targets for its most material lending portfolios.  

The new portfolio level targets are: 

• Dairy sector: 10% reduction in financed emissions intensity (tCO2-e/t of Fat and Protein Correct Milk) by 2030, from a 2021 baseline.  

• Sheep and beef: 9% reduction in financed emissions intensity (tCO2-e/t of fresh weight/carcass weight) by 2030, from a 2021 baseline.

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