A mini-divestment campaign hit Byron Bay’s Commonwealth Bank last Friday as four residents closed their accounts in protest over what they claim is the bank’s investment in fossil fuels and environmental destruction.
The four – Amelia, Wren, Daniel and Ingrid – joined the Go Fossil Free divestment campaign, which has revealed that the Commonwealth Bank has over $1.5 billion invested in Australia’s east coast coal, gas and oil industries.
But it’s not just the Commonwealth Bank that invests heavily in fossil fuels; the other three big banks – the NAB, ANZ and Westpac – have also been linked.
Amelia said, ‘Its counterintuitive for my money to be invested in the coal and gas industries, which negatively impact on my future by accelerating climate change. I took a moral stand.’
Wren meanwhile said she felt happy about closing her account, noting that the Commonwealth Bank had more than $1 billion invested in expanding coal and gas port facilities in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. ‘I’m feeling great about taking the next step to lightening my ecological footprint and not supporting destructive industries that threaten the future of life on Earth.’
Demonstration organiser Sabine Pinon said, ‘This is just the start of our local Go Fossil Free (GFF) campaign, linked to events happening today outside Commonwealth Banks in every Australian capital. The combined loans by our four biggest banks just in east coast coal and gas ports since 2008 is $6.5 billion.
‘Over the next two months we will target each of the big four banks, revealing their investments.’
Inspired by Mandela
The Australian GFF branch is part of a global movement inspired by the worlds’ foremost climate change campaigner, Bill McKibben.
Ms Pinon said, ‘Bill explained on his recent visit to Australia that when Nelson Mandela was released from jail and became South Africa’s president, he quickly went to the US’.
‘But not to the White House – he went to churches and universities to thank them, saying the really critical action that ended apartheid was them and European divestment campaigns.’