Last week’s successful protest at the Petroleum Conference is proof that we can make a difference. Let’s keep the momentum going!
Taking action for the climate
Last week, hundreds of protesters blocked the entrances to the New Zealand Oil Conference in Auckland. As the oil industry and the government came to discuss New Zealand’s dirty energy future – New fossil fuel projects, how to further exploit New Zealand’s natural resources, and more – they were met with a big surprise. The conference was disrupted and delayed, as many delegates were unable to get into the building.
This inspiring action, headed by Greenpeace New Zealand, proved once again that nonviolent direct action does make a difference and can substantially impact even the most intimidating economic and political forces, such as the fossil fuel industry.
A similar conference took place a year ago, with climate activists protesting ANZ Bank’s Sponsorship of the conference. Creative protests were staged all over the country, pressuring the bank to withdraw its sponsorship of the event. As we found out recently, these tactics worked! ANZ decided not to sponsor this year’s Petroleum Conference.
Let’s keep going!
We must keep the momentum going. This May, actions will take place around the world to block and hinder fossil fuel interests. The global campaign – called Break Free From Fossil Fuels – allows different locations to choose their most appropriate target.
In New Zealand, that target is one of the four large banks in New Zealand, which invests a huge amount of money in fossil fuel projects.
Banking on climate change
All four banks (ASB, ANZ, BNZ, and Westpac) have issued statements about the concern of climate change. Yet despite this open acknowledgment that fossil fuels are both a risky and ethically unsound investment, they continue to finance coal and gas extraction projects.
For example, ANZ said in its recent Climate Change Statement, “We understand some of our stakeholders view our financing of fossil fuel industries as a material risk and in direct conflict with our stated position on the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Westpac’s Statement is especially clear: “Climate change is affecting our businesses and the communities in which we operate. We recognise that we have a role to play, and we want to play our part.” They emphasise “the need for a responsible transition to decarbonised, sustainable economic development.”
As evidenced by their Statements, these banks are keen to continue to greenwash their involvement in coal and gas extraction for the foreseeable future, devoting a total of $38.5 billion towards such projects in Australia since 2008. This is unacceptable for banks that serve large numbers of Pacific people – people who are experiencing the brunt of climate change’s impacts.
The bank that will be disrupted is the worst offender of the Big Four. They not only have the worst track record when it comes to fossil fuel investments, but they also (ironically) are the largest in the Pacific – a region they clearly don’t care about undermining by contributing to sea level rises and severe storms. They do not value their own employees, and tried to cut their salaries by 20-40% last year, despite the fact that their CEO is the highest-paid person in New Zealand.
Please join us as we begin planning our actions for May, to take action on a bank that plays dirty! We will have actions planned all around the country, so don’t miss out!