CBA joins global push to limit emissions by cutting coal exposure by 2030

FILE PHOTO - A man walks past a branch of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in central Sydney, Australia, February 7, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

(Reuters) - Commonwealth Bank of Australia CBA.AX became the latest company to join a global push to reduce emissions and said it would phase out its exposure to thermal coal or power plants by 2030.

The company announced a new environmental and social policy in its annual report released on Wednesday, emphasizing its commitment to bring emissions to net zero, in line with global goals set out in the 2015 landmark Paris climate agreement.

The bank joins a host of other Australian companies adopting similar policies to combat climate change, and reduce the country’s reliance on coal-generated power.

Late last month, the world's biggest miner BHP Group BHPB.LBHP.AX said it would invest $400 million over five years to reduce emissions, while insurers Suncorp Group SUN.AX and QBE Insurance Group QBE.AX have also set targets to eliminate their exposure to coal by 2025 and 2030, respectively.

The trend to move away from fossil fuels has gathered pace over the last few years since the Paris agreement, with pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and others limiting exposure to oil, gas and coal stocks.

Norway’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, recently said it would also be reducing some of its holdings in companies operating in environmentally harmful sectors like coal.

CBA will make A$15 billion ($10.07 billion) of funding available to low carbon projects by 2025, the lender said in its environmental policy framework.

A report this month by energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie said the world is at risk of not meeting the Paris targets, and according to its analysis, coal, gas and oil will still contribute about 85% of energy supply by 2040.

($1 = A$1.4903)

Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta