tomwherry tomwherry, May 3, 2016

People are into shit. People like all sorts of weird stuff. I know 30 year-olds who still love the computer game Worms. Metal-detectors are making a come-back. Geo-tagging exists. I have a mate who writes fan-fiction to obscure renaissance artists for goodness sake (ok, that one was me). Right, so we have really diverse interests. That makes it pretty remarkable there’s this thing everyone’s into: nature.

 

I’m yet to meet someone who isn’t David Attenborough’s biggest fan. There aren’t many out there who don’t appreciate a good dose of outdoors. And who, on seeing their island or city disappear under water due to rising sea levels, isn’t going to think “Darn, I was enjoying that!” Nature – our planet, the environment – is honestly one of the only things I can think of that everyone loves. Other contenders might be sex or peace, but I reckon I recently met someone who wasn’t into bed stuff and hey, almost half the world’s leading democracy are considering Donald Trump as a leader. So nature it is then; our one common interest.

 

What if I told you that your money is being used to wreck it?

 

Where’s your money? It’s in a Good Old Bank of course. And what is Good Old Bank doing with your money. Is it safely storing it in Gringotts? No. Is it cleverly investing it to make the world a better place? No. Is it using it to fund irreversible damage to our one common interest? Err…yes. Awkward, naughty GOB. Turns out GOB is more of a BOB.

 

Here at 350 we want to make sure everyone knows about this. We give our money to banks. Banks fund fossil fuel projects. Fossil fuel projects create climate change. Banks are using our money to fund climate change.

 

Since 2008, the big four Australian BOBs I mean banks that hold all NZ’s money have loaned over $38.5 billion to new coal and gas projects in Australia, as well as financing projects here in NZ.

 

That’s a strange thing to be doing. World leaders signed a deal in Paris last year that commits to holding global warming below 2°C. The Carbon Tracker Initiative have revealed that, to stay under this life-saving threshold, we can only burn 20% of the known coal, oil and gas reserves that fossil fuel companies already have on their books. The other 80% needs to stay in the ground. By investing in fossil fuel projects, BOBs are funding irreversible damage to our planet, that thing we love and exist upon. Damn it.

 

Who are the worst BOBs then? The ANZ Group is currently the largest lender to fossil fuel projects in Australia. In response to calls for divestment both in Australia and in New Zealand, ANZ stated clearly that they intend to continue funding the coal industry, regardless of the scientific reality of climate change and the Paris agreement. Other banks are BOBs too: Westpac, Commonwealth (owner of ASB) and NAB (owner of BNZ) all have billions invested in fossil fuels.

 

 

Can we do something about this? We at 350 Aotearoa have tried and tried. We have written to BOBs, passed on reports with the latest research, we have mobilised their customers to get in touch and we have met with them in person. In Australia, 350 has attended AGMs and engaged with BOBs via shareholders. Nothing has come close to them paying anything other than lip service to being environmentally minded. It’s time to take action.

 

Thanks for reading.

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