THE ANZ bank's plan to impose carbon emissions reporting on a range of key lenders has left industry stakeholders in the Riverina concerned about the consequences for their operations.
The banking giant's plan was slammed as "grossly unfair" by Member for Riverina Michael McCormack, who expressed concerns that smaller businesses would struggle with the cost of transitioning to a low carbon model.
In an attempt to ease fears, ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott said the policy was aimed only at the highest emitters, with "no impact on the bank's farmgate lending practices".
The new policy, which could apply to some agriculture, food and beverage industries, builders, and energy and transport providers, requires those seeking loans to report all business emissions in an effort to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Despite Mr Elliott's assurance, Wagga builder Wayne Carter said he felt the policy would "put the brakes on for a lot of people".
"As a builder, you can use everything from paint to nails, bricks and mortar, and each of those elements come with their own set of emissions, which to calculate would be incredibly onerous," he said.
"It just seems like more bureaucracy, just a big waste of time."
NSW Farmers Riverina branch chairman Alan Brown said the "new layer of bureaucracy" failed to target the right sector when considering carbon footprints.
"Farmers operate in a very short-term carbon cycle, products are put back into the soil in a relatively short time whereas the issue the world has is with fossilised carbon," he said.
"It's just rubbish."
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Mr McCormack feared the reporting system would lead to costs being passed down the chain.
"Transport, fertiliser and fuel companies snared by these new rules could have no choice but to pass on costs along the agricultural supply chain, only to have farmers pick up the bill at the end," he said.
"Imposing largely Euro-centric standards to satisfy shareholder activists while our nation recovers from a global pandemic is grossly unfair."
But chairman of Farmers for Climate Action Charlie Prell said it was vital for people to consider the "bigger picture".
"Climate change is the real risk here, and managing risks is what banks do. It isn't a moral issue for them, it's a financial one, and the sooner farmers realise that risk is there, the better," he said.
"We need to be educating farmers firstly on climate change and the risks associated, then on assessing their own vulnerability to that risk and what opportunities present themselves to mitigate those risks."