BRISBANE, 18 DECEMBER 2013: Shareholders and bank executives will be left in no doubt about the bank’s position as number one financer of coal mines in Australia and its position as the world’s 19th largest climate offender as they made their way into the bank’s AGM today through a group of protestors and a sea of posters of customers who’ve closed their accounts.
At the same time, in Melbourne, protestors will turn up at ANZ’s global headquarters with a Christmas tree, stockings full of coal, S anta hats and a message from James Hansen: “Kicking Australia’s coal habit is the greatest gift Australians could give to everyone’s children, future generations and other life on our planet.”
Thousands of Australians are particularly worried about the bank’s involvement in a massive open-cut coal mine at Maules Creek – a mine that will destroy vitally important forest, agricultural land, water supplies and also help drive dangerous climate change. Those concerned include a group of local Traditional Owner Gomeroi Elders and young people who have travelled 700km today to question ANZ executives inside the AGM. Whitehaven’s Maules Creek project is desecrating important cultural sites including burial sites. By destroying vast tracts of forest they will also be destroying animals and plants important to Aboriginal people.
But Maules Creek is just one in a series of environmentally damaging projects on ANZ’s books. Over the past five years, ANZ has loaned over $2.3 billion to new coal and gas export projects along the eastern seaboard, over a billion of which funded coal and gas export projects in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
“ANZ is not just an environmental vandal, it is also operating on old information as analysts from Citi, Goldman Sachs, the International Energy Agency, HSBC, the IMF and more finance experts highlight the growing financial risks that fossil fuel investments, particularly coal investments, pose,” said Greenpeace Energy campaigner, Nic Clyde
In recent days, dozens of ANZ customers have turned out at branches across the country to publicly close their accounts in protest of the bank’s funding of environmentally damaging projects. Meanwhile, last Monday, over 100 people risked arrest to block construction of the Maules Creek mine. Shareholders were met this morning by a precession of ANZ customers who have recently cut ties with the bank over its fossil fuel lending.
“Shareholders need to know ANZ’s massive investments in dirty coal and gas are not just harming the environment, damaging cultural places of importance and driving global warming. They’re also putting ANZ’s reputation, customer base and shareholder capital at risk”, said Market Forces Lead Campaigner Julien Vincent.
“We’re here at ANZ’s AGM today to carry a message from financial analysts and ANZ customers – that fossil fuel investments = bad business. If ANZ continues to ignore these risks, activities like todays will escalate.” said Charlie Wood, 350.org Australia campaigns director
“It’s time the Bank realised that we won’t stand silently as they invest our money in a dangerous future. It’s time for ANZ to demonstrate that they really do ‘live in our world’,” said Alexandra Scott, who closed her account on Saturday.