14. March. 2024

Climate justice organisation 350 Aotearoa is releasing new research that exposes the relationship between banks in Aotearoa and the fossil fuel industry. The report ranks all 11 banks in Aotearoa with assets over $3 billion. Kiwibank, the Cooperative Bank and SBS* are celebrated as fossil free banks. All four Australian-owned banks (Westpac, BNZ, ASB & ANZ) continue to ‘bankroll’ fossil fuel companies.

350 Aotearoa campaigner Adam Currie says “In 2024, it is unacceptable that the big four Aussie-owned banks are profiting from climate-killing projects. This is a slap in the face to New Zealanders suffering from climate impacts – especially those from the East Coast or Tāmaki Makaurau who are still suffering from the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle.”

“Since 2016, the four Australian-owned banks have loaned over $56 billion to the fossil fuel industry. This has enabled over 20 billion tonnes of emissions – more than 250 times the annual emissions of New Zealand. Financing fossil fuels is irresponsible, risky, and immoral, and it’s time that we demand that our banks stop fueling the climate crisis. Banks are a direct link between everyday people and the fossil fuel industry. Decisions by the big four banks can make or break new fossil fuel projects. Right now, the coalition government’s war-on-nature fast-track consenting bill is threatening fossil fuel extraction in Aotearoa. The thing is – climate criminals can’t dig for fossil fuels without the finance to do so. This is why it is so crucial that we push our banks to go fossil-free,” says Currie.

Rudd Hughes, Retail and Finance Secretary of FIRST Union, who represents thousands of members across the Big Four banks, said the research comes at a time when the banks’ social license is already tarnished.

“While working people struggle with surging living costs and mortgage rates, the Big Four have chalked up record profits off the back of an overworked and underpaid workforce. I think many of our members would be alarmed to learn that the profits they generate their employer are being used to finance climate chaos in Australia.”

350 Aotearoa’s new research finds that while some banks (Westpac, TSB, Kiwibank, SBS & Co-operative) have ruled out investing directly in fossil fuel companies, only a couple (Kiwibank, SBS & Co-operative) have ruled out lending money to such corporations, which enables them to drill, mine and frack fossil fuels.

“We’ve published this research because we want to allow New Zealand customers and businesses to make an informed choice to shift their money away from banks that are bankrolling fossil fuel extraction. When people get their fortnightly pay, or put money away to save for their children’s future, they want to know that the bank they are using is part of the solution to the climate crisis. Banks have a responsibility to listen to their customers, so we want to give New Zealanders the information and tools to call on their banks to divest and shift away from the biggest funders of climate change,” says Currie.

“People power works. After a long campaign, we successfully pushed Kiwibank to become the first bank in New Zealand to commit to being Fossil Free, and the first bank in the world that has committed to withhold banking services from coal, oil and gas companies. Kiwibank, Co-Operative and SBS* banks stepped up – but the big four Aussie-owned banks are refusing to cut their ties with fossil fools.’


View the research here: https://350.org.nz/fossil-free-banks/