News from Coal Action Aotearoa
Westpac customers queued at the Wellington Cuba Street branch of Westpac today, forming a continuous line and symbolically withdrawing a dollar to send Westpac a simple message: Westpac customers do not want their money financing climate change. Participants were quickly told to leave by Westpac staff despite being Westpac’s own customers.
The action takes place as part of a nationwide week of action initiated by 350 Aotearoa and Coal Action Network Aotearoa. Thirteen cities and towns around New Zealand are holding actions this week demanding Westpac live up to their own sustainability and climate policies and stop financing Bathurst Resources, the company which plans to open a series of new coal mines on the Denniston Plateau.
“New Zealanders have sent more than 1300 letters to Westpac over the past few weeks. Westpac’s response so far has been that they won’t stop financing and that their climate change policies mean supporting a transition to a low-carbon future. A transition means seeing out existing mines, not opening five new ones as Bathurst plans to do,” said 350 spokesperson Ashlee Gross.
“So we’re here today to tell Westpac that if they stall on taking action on climate change, we’ll stall their business.”
An increasing number of major reports have looked at the planet’s remaining “global carbon budget” and highlighted that fossil fuel companies are planning to dig up five times the amount of coal, oil and gas that we can afford to burn in order to keep global warming to the internationally agreed limit of 2 degrees C.
“Westpac claims that sustainability is at the heart of their culture. Westpac needs to prove that their sustainability and climate change policies are more than greenwash,” said Coal Action Network Aotearoa spokesperson Tim Jones.
“If Westpac continue to ignore their customers the next step for many will be to switch banks.”