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 $76 billion NZD to new coal and gas projects in Australia, as well as financing projects here in NZ.
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 the table below to find out your bank’s relationship with fossil fuels, and what you can do about it.
7 steps to a Fossil Free Bank
Step 1: Look at the table above to 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 these steps to switch, and for more information 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 $24.9 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.