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Byron Shire
March 5, 2021

Chipping away at banks’ investment in dirty fuel

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Earlier this month, several people around the region let the big banks know (again) that we don’t want investment in dirty fuel technologies.

Divestment Day saw a group of us meet in Murwillumbah to close our accounts with the big banks (ANZ, CBA, NAB, Westpac). Others did the same thing in Lismore and Byron Bay.

We did this to show them it is no longer acceptable to use our money to invest in new coal and gas projects in Australia.

Since 2008 they have invested nearly $20 billion in these dirty and destructive industries.

If you don’t have time to switch banks, deliver a letter of intent (link to template here and below).

This was not a protest. We did not march or protest, hold banners or chant slogans. We have no quarrel with the staff, managers, security or other customers of these banks. We were simply there as customers, exercising our right to close our accounts.

The action was part of a national campaign, dubbed Divestment Day, which saw over a thousand Australians switch from the big four to banks that are not directly investing in the fossil fuel industry, in an effort to raise awareness of the big four banks’ role in fuelling climate change and to put pressure on the banks to change their lending practices.

Research has revealed that since 2008 the big four banks, which include ANZ, Westpac, NAB and the Commonwealth Bank, have collectively loaned over $19 billion to coal, oil and gas companies, which are acknowledged as the most significant contributors to human-induced climate change.

The movement to divest from fossil fuels has gained support from high profile voices in the international community including Nobel laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu who recently called for an anti-apartheid style boycott against the fossil fuel industry and corporations financing this industry.

The UN report on climate change released earlier this month also recommended that $30 billion needed to be moved out of fossil fuels each year if the world is to stay below the two degrees of climate change which international governments have committed to.

Debbie Firestone, environmental scientist and mother of two from Murwillumbah and NAB customer for over 15 years, said ‘I’m really keen to see my bank use my funds for investments that support our local community and a bright future, but NAB’s fossil fuel investments mean my money has been used to invest in climate change, I’m not happy about that and want to make the switch’.

Judy Oakenfull, a Commonwealth Bank customer of over 25 years said ‘It’s been easier than I thought to switch my accounts. The big four banks all have links to fossil fuel investments, and some have links to gas field projects in the northern rivers and are investing in gas export facilities on the Queensland coast’.

She said ‘It’s important that we take a stand on this issue and show that it is not socially acceptable to profit at the expense of our community, our environment and our climate’.

To find out more about low carbon finance options visit www.350.org/divestmentday or www.marketforces.org.au/divestmentday

Yasir Assam, Rainer Glasker, TweedCAN

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