What’s the Problem?
Our banks are funding a big problem. Since 2008, the “Big 4” Australian banks that dominate NZ’s banking – Westpac, Commonwealth (parent company of ASB), NAB (parent company of BNZ), and ANZ – have loaned over $38.5 billion to new coal and gas projects in Australia, as well as financing projects here in NZ. They are now in the top ten lenders to fossil fuels in Australia in 2016.
These investments threaten our climate and precious ecosystems like the Denniston Plateau and the Great Barrier Reef. As custodians of the majority of New Zealanders’ money, we can hold the Big Banks accountable for how it is used.
In New Zealand, Australia and all around the world, a movement of people are using their collective customer power to demand that the banks invest their savings responsibly.
New Zealand is in a unique position, where none of our locally-owned banks – like KiwiBank and the Cooperative – have any direct fossil fuel investments. Yet. We have an opportunity as a nation to have our banks commit to providing truly fossil free alternatives for Kiwis.
Check out our Fossil Free Banks Report to find out your bank’s relationship with fossil fuels, and what you can do about it.
It’s Time to Divest
Since Break Free in May, we have continued work on our banks divestment campaign. Recently, we directed our attention towards Westpac in addition to ANZ, due to Westpac’s continuous support for dirty fossil fuels and its funding of projects that are expanding the fossil fuel industry. They have also been deemed the“World’s Most Sustainable Company” by Dow Jones; a classic case of corporate greenwashing. This is despite their $6.33 billion in investments in fossil fuels since 2008. As a result, we are now asking both ANZ and Westpac to divest from fossil fuels by the 25th of November, 2016.
Sign the pledge to move your money from ANZ and Westpac if they don’t divest by 25 November!
We launched our campaign by playing on Westpac’s “It’s Time” ad campaign. We entered a Westpac branch with alarms going off – to signify that it is time for Westpac to “stop hitting the snooze button” and divest from fossil fuels. If ANZ and Westpac choose not to divest by 25 November, individuals and organisations will move their money from ANZ and Westpac to another bank.
Forest and Bird were the first organisation to publicly announce their ultimatum to ANZ in May. Since then, we have received support from other organisations who will participate in the pledge.
A big thank you to everyone who has signed the pledge; we will continue to push forward in the hopes that the banks will feel the pressure and stop funding the destruction of our climate.
7 steps to a Fossil Free Bank
Step 1: Find out whether your bank is lending to fossil fuels.
Step 2: If they are, tell them you’ll leave if they don’t divest.
Step 3: If they’re not, tell them that you would like to see them take a stand on this issue.
Step 4: If you’re not happy with your bank’s response, consider switching banks – use this great guide created by our friends at Market Forces to help you make the switch.
Step 5: Tell your bank why you’re leaving them.
Step 6: Tell your new bank why you’re joining them.
Step 7: Make your switch public. Share it on social media, and don’t forget to tag your bank in your posts.
Why Fossil Free?
Divestment is the process of selling an asset for either financial or social goals. It’s a powerful tool that investors can use to show companies, governments and the world that they cannot and will not invest in detrimental or morally objectionable practices, like catastrophic climate change. Divestment can be a profound step when an investor decides to make a statement by withdrawing financial support from a corporation that is abusing the environment, the community, or larger society.
By challenging business-as-usual through the divestment movement, we can remove the industry’s social license to operate both in the market and in our political sphere.
Could you accidentally be funding climate change?
Almost every one of us here in New Zealand has a personal bank account. And, whether we like it or not, that means we’re likely to be involved in bankrolling the oil, gas and coal companies who are polluting our atmosphere with toxic carbon dioxide emissions. These companies rely on finance from banks to be able to explore for and extract dirty fossil fuels. And many of the banks responsible for that finance are high street names who are accountable to us, their customers. That may leave a bitter taste in your mouth. But here’s the good news: this is your money, which means you also have a say in how the banks are shaping your future.
Bankrolling fossil fuels is risky business
World leaders have already committed to keeping global warming at a maximum of 2°C, the level that scientists agree we must not exceed if we’re to avoid dangerous consequences. But here’s the thing: financial analysts at the London-based 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, or we risk causing the fragile system that sustains us to spin out of control.
We’re asking banks to commit to being fossil free and we’re super excited because it’s high time Kiwi’s had a banking option that is committed to being truly sustainable.
From Westpac’s funding of coal mining on precious Denniston Plateau to ANZ pumping $13.5 billion into fossil fuels, to our own Kiwibank’s lack of policy around funding fossil fuel projects – it’s time for the industry to shape up.