Let us tell you how everyday people like you and me pulled power, social licence and money away from the fossil fuel companies that are causing climate breakdown and violating human rights all over the world.
We did it! Together we pushed the government to put climate change at the core of its decision to reform default Kiwisaver standards. Today the government announced that all default Kiwisaver funds will have mandatory responsible investment policies that exclude fossil fuel investments. This means that when anyone signs up to join Kiwisaver, they are now guaranteed that the default option for their savings will not be fueling the climate crisis.
This is an incredible win for our 350 Aotearoa community. Here’s what we achieved together:
- In September 2019, over 230 of us made submissions to the government’s Kiwisaver consultation and called for default Kiwisaver funds to exclude investments in the coal, oil, & gas companies that are responsible for the climate crisis.
- Together we made up over 80% of overall submissions, drowning out the vested interests of corporations like our banks that benefit from being the default Kiwisaver funds while investing billions of dollars in fossil fuels.
- In November, hundreds of you responded to our survey about your own Kiwisaver funds. We collated this information to form the basis of a crowd-sourced letter to Hon Grant Robertson and Hon Kris Faafoi, calling on them to get our Kiwisavers out of fossil fuels.
- Over 1300 of us wrote letters to Grant Robertson & Kris Faafoi, flooding their inboxes with calls to put the urgency of the climate crisis at the heart of their decision to change Kiwisaver settings.
- Hundreds of us tweeted our MPs in the final days of their decision-making, making sure that the overwhelming call for fossil free Kiwisaver funds was top of their minds when setting the new standards.
Our shared win is a really BIG deal. Here’s what it means:
- For years, our 350 community has been leading campaigns to cut off finance to fossil fuel companies that are causing the climate crisis, and targeting our banks and Kiwisaver funds to introduce fossil free policies that cut ties with the fossil fuel industry. We’ve had a number of wins, and pushed a few individual Kiwisaver funds to divest from fossil fuels.
- Today we shifted the settings for all default Kiwisaver funds to stop the flow of money from our home & retirement savings to the fossil fuel industry. This means we’ve set a new standard that will impact the whole sector!
- When New Zealanders start a new job, we are automatically signed up for KiwiSaver through a default fund, and many of us don’t realise we have the option to change.
- Until now, all of the default funds were tied up in risky fossil fuel investments that compromise our futures. Over $1.15 billion of New Zealanders’ savings in Kiwisaver accounts is invested in companies involved in fossil fuel extraction and production.
- Today we changed this! With the changes we pushed for, 715,000 New Zealanders will no longer inadvertently be financing the coal, oil, and gas companies fueling the climate crisis. This is huge!
- The changes to default standards will mean that all KiwiSaver fund managers will feel pressure to implement ethical investment policies that exclude fossil fuel companies to remain competitive.
AND because of our collective pressure, the government has declared the fossil fuel industry unethical!
The change to default Kiwisaver standards will have a wider impact on the whole finance sector, which means we’ve never been in a better place to win our banks campaign and push the first bank in New Zealand to commit to being fossil free.
Our banks and our Kiwisaver funds in Aotearoa are inextricably linked. Of the 9 default Kiwisaver providers, 5 of them are connected to our major banks: ANZ, ASB, BNZ, Westpac, & Kiwibank. This means that all of these banks will have to make a decision about whether to continue to benefit from the large customer base that comes with being default Kiwisaver providers, and if so, divest all Kiwisaver investments from coal, oil, & gas. This puts us in our strongest place yet to push for our banks to commit to full divestment and drive a swift end to fossil fuel dominance in our society.
This is why- while we need to take a moment to celebrate this victory for the climate and for the power we have when we collaborate- we need to use this moment to gear up our campaign for New Zealand’s first fossil free bank.
Today Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced that all default Kiwisaver schemes will reflect the urgency of the climate crisis, but we need our banks to follow suit too.
As of today, we’re going all in to make sure Kiwibank turns its promises into action and announces a fossil free policy.
With power, gratitude and determination,
Erica for 350 Aotearoa