By Ami Dhabuwala
350 Aotearoa has recently launched their “It’s Time to Divest” campaign, which is giving two banks – ANZ and Wetpac – until November 25th to withdraw all of their investments and loans to fossil fuel companies.
ANZ and Westpac together have almost $20 billion invested in fossil fuels. They are two of the biggest lenders to fossil fuel projects in Australasia.
Sandy Hildebrandt is a campaign assistant with 350 Aotearoa.
She is campaigning to get both ANZ and Westpac to become fossil free, which means that they would need to withdraw all investments to fossil fuel companies within the next three years.
“This also means that they would commit to never invest in fossil fuels in the future.”
Hildebrandt says that often, bank funding can make or break an oil, coal, or gas extraction operation – so currently, ANZ and Westpac are doing real damage.
Hildebrandt joined the organization in March 2015 as a volunteer.
“It is really a good experience for me, because getting involved with other people who have similar passion makes you feel like you are not alone.”
She says that before she joined the organisation, she felt she couldn’t make much of a difference. Instead, she would sit on her computer and argue with people on Facebook about important issues. But with the organization the change is visible.
“It makes a huge difference if you find a good volunteer group.”
350 Aotearoa also encourages people to join them.
Hildebrandt says, “We know from experience that there are some really energised people out there who want to make a difference. We already have support, so it’s just about effective organising.”
“There is growing outrage in society about fossil fuels, and this campaign will add to that sense of injustice.”
According to Hildebrandt, fossil fuels have no moral support any longer, and divestment shows fossil fuel investment’s continuing loss of social license.
350 Aotearoa requests people to sign their pledge, which can be found at bit.ly/itstimetodivest. “We need as many people and organisations as possible to pledge to move their money out of Westpac and ANZ if the two banks don’t divest by the deadline.”
The organisation makes people aware of the dangers of climate change, while still showing them solutions and hope. “Otherwise, people become depressed and feel that they can’t make a difference, and that’s simply not true.”
Hildebrandt says, “As an individual, people they may feel they are not capable of bringing about any change, but being a part of the volunteer group they can allow people to bring a change to the society.”
Hildebrandt also writes blog for the organisation and is passionate about justice, poverty and human rights.
“I am really enjoying writing blogs for 350 Aotearoa. It just works perfectly what I am interested in.”
350 Aotearoa is a grassroots-based climate campaign organisation. It is based in the concept of climate justice – the idea that the people most impacted by climate change should have the most say in what to do about it.
Hildebrandt talks about the values of the organisation: “We maintain financial independence and therefore aren’t bossed around by corporations or government. We are concerned with justice on an organisational level – we have a strong belief in autonomy for volunteers and encouraging creativity.”
350 Aotearoa is concerned with healthy interpersonal relationships and equal power dynamics within the organisation.
“We acknowledge the root causes of climate change – an unequal economic system that gives certain institutions enormous power over every day people.”