The announcement follows an extended campaign by environmental groups.

Standard Chartered is the second financial institutional to walk away from the proposed Carmichael coal mine in Queensland in the last few days.

Last week the Commonwealth Bank of Australia also announced it was abandoning the venture after the federal court of Australia overturned the government approval for the mine.

Carmichael would be Australia’s largest coal mine and one of the largest in the world.

Greenpeace activists say the mine requires massive seafloor dredging and port expansion, resulting in hundreds more coal ships sailing through Great Barrier Reef waters.

At 28,000 hectares, the mine would also produce 121 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year at full production, contributing to climate change – “the greatest threat to the Reef”.

Last week, Greenpeace UK’s executive director John Sauven wrote to Standard Chartered bosses asking them to come clean about their current role in the project, and on Monday the bank wrote back saying it would no longer provide financial advice to the project.

“This is a victory for anyone who cares about the future of both the Great Barrier Reef and the world’s efforts to tackle climate change,” said Greenpeace campaigner Sebastian Bock.

“Getting anywhere near this controversial project is now a massive reputational risk even for some of the world’s most powerful banks. The Australian government should now take notice and rethink their support for one of the most environmentally destructive fossil fuel developments in the world.”

Emissions targets

Criticising the Australian Government is a popular pastime for environmental groups this week, after Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced plans to cut emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels by 2030.

Critics said the target would require Australia to cut its emissions at an annual rate of 1.6-1.9%, compared to an average 2.5% for other developed countries.

WWF Australia’s Kellie Caught said: “If every country matched Australia’s effort the world would be on track for 3-4 degrees of warming.

“It’s in Australia’s interest that the world acts to cut carbon pollution, but we can’t urge others to do more if we sit at the back of the pack. We can get a better outcome at the front.”

However, Abbott defended the policy, saying: “It’s better than Japan. It’s almost the same as New Zealand. It’s a whisker below Canada. It’s a little below Europe. It’s about the same as the United States. It’s vastly better than Korea. Of course, it is unimaginably better than China.”

Brad Allen

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