Anti-coal activists will descend on the Commonwealth Bank in Ballina today as part of an action taking place across Australia.
They want the bank to rule out financing the Galilee Basin coal-mining project and the associated Abbot Point coal port expansion on the Great Barrier Reef.
The action will include a community consultation stall where Commonwealth Bank customers can find out about the bank’s unethical investments and pledge to move their money to a more ethical bank, or close their accounts.
Local organizer Amelia Hicks told Echonetdaily that the Ballina action was part of a 350.org initiative that would involve 100 separate protests at Commonwealth Bank branches across the country.
Ms Hicks, the former secretary of the Ballina anti coal seam gas group, said the Commonwealth Bank was now the largest investor in fossil fuels out of the four big banks.
She said the message today would be simple.
“If they choose to fund Adani they are facing an unrelenting campaign that will damage their reputation,’ she said.
‘The divestment movement is focused on the top four banks – the Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, NAP and ANZ.
‘The Commonwealth Bank is being targeted today because it is now the largest investor in fossil fuel.
‘The Commonwealth Bank is clearly showing they value coal over the climate and the reef but we know that Australians care about the reef.
‘We are asking the bank to be a champion of the people rather than the mining industry.
‘We know those reserves need to stay in the ground to mitigate climate change.’
Ms Hicks, a former Australian Youth Climate Coalition member, said the Commonwealth Bank was aware of today’s actions.
‘We know the Commonwealth Bank is on alert. They have contacted the police.’
She gave an assurance however that today’s protests would be peaceful, saying they aimed to educate people.
‘We will have a community consultation stall and we will be talking to customers and giving them the opportunity to sign a pledge.
‘The pledge is simple. Please rule out funding the Galilee project or we will move our money elsewhere,’ she said.
Today’s Ballina action will take place between 12.30pm and 3pm at the Commonwealth Bank branch in River Street.