Schoolboy attacks ‘bad’ banks in protest at AFR summit

The student joined and School Strike 4 Climate after natural disasters in 2020 and 2021. He was joined by Shaun Murray, a fellow climate activist who disrupted Westpac’s 200th anniversary dinner in 2017 by chaining himself to the ceiling. has called on banks to stop financing fossil fuel expansion.

“I really started to worry about climate change when my family vacation home in the Blue Mountains nearly burned down.

‘Patient’ response

“Then last April, while I was on vacation in WA with my family, we ended up in the middle of Cyclone Seroja.

“Tragically, a man was electrocuted and died just a few feet away from me. It was a terrifying experience that I will never forget.”

Christopher, who got a microphone from the Financial Overview, asked Mr McEwan, “I want to understand why you refuse to stop financing fossil fuels.”

Mr. McEwan pointed out to Christopher the bank’s policy on coal, oil and gas.

“It gives us a very clear stance on our stance on it and what we’re doing. And I’d be interested in your comments after you’ve had a good look at that,” the NAB chief said.

‘We’ll come get them’

Christopher, who attended the summit as a delegate, said he found Mr McEwan’s response “favourable” as he had read “very thoroughly” the bank’s policies. He said he believed all the major banks were guilty of financing fossil fuel projects.

“It’s just ridiculous how these bank CEOs think they can talk to young people, and how they think we’re insignificant and we’re not strong. But we’re coming to get them.

“They prioritize filling their own pockets over saving lives, and I think that’s just bad.”

Christopher also questioned CBA chief executive Matt Comyn about the bank’s approach to fossil fuel financing, saying he was tired of “greenwashing.”

“The simplest explanation is that we have not only committed to [the Paris] Agreed, but also to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees. As for our exposure to fossil fuels, they make up less than 2 percent of our balance sheet,” replied Mr Comyn.

He said the bank is committed to the energy transition and shares Christopher’s concerns.

ANZ, Westpac and NAB came under fire in January after agreeing to help fund Woodside’s Pluto LNG processing facility in Western Australia, which was described at the time as a “carbon bomb”.

ANZ also confirmed last November that: it would continue to lend to oil and gas companiesand CEO Shayne Elliott said the bank’s decision to fund new resource projects should be seen as part of a broader move to reduce emissions.

According to, none of the major banks are trading in line with the International Energy Agency’s net zero path for oil and gas. As of 2021, NAB was the only bank to have a partial policy to end project financing for the development of new fossil fuel reserves that have not been approved for development.

In the following address, Wayne Byres, chairman of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, said only half of banks were analyzing the issuance of their loan portfolios, posing a challenge to Australia’s path to net zero issuance.

Asked about how banks should approach oil and gas projects, Mr Byres said it is important that they continue to fund “brown” companies making the transition to green.

“There are brown companies today that you would like to be green companies in the future. But to go from brown to green they will have to fund the transition and fund the investment,” Mr Byres said.

“It’s really important that the financial system and the banking system can fund that transition.”

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