Westpac have a better climate policy on export coal than Liberal or Labor

May 14, 2017 at 6:49 pm 1 comment

Thank You Westpac for new climate policy

On Friday members of Climate Action Moreland and supporters gathered on Sydney Road outside Westpac Bank. For a change we had something positive to say. We also had a load protest outside Commbank next door, before marching to Wills MP Peter Khalil’s office to push him past just opposing public subsidies to oppose the mine itself.

The Westpac Bank climate position statement and 2020 action plan is actually more aligned with Australia’s commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement, in terms of the export coal industry, than either the Government or Labor opposition. That is not to say it is perfect, but Westpac Bank realize there is a transition to a zero carbon economy underway and their policy on investment in fossil fuels and especially coal is nuanced to that effect.

Under the policy investment in new coal basins is ruled out, and investment in mines with low quality coal, beneath the Newcastle benchmark, is also ruled out. That effectively rules out Westpac Bank funding any Galilee Basin coal mines under the climate policy.

We prepared a thank you card, and spoke informally to the Coburg Westpac Branch manager outside while we waited for people to arrive, along with two policeman from Fawkner station to ensure no mayhem ensued in our proceedings. The Branch Manager had perhaps a little nervousness but also signs of relief that we were there actually to thank the bank. A little bit of good news for a sector often the subject of enormous public criticism.

We made a speech or two, then a few of us went inside where we formally presented the Thank you card to the manager, and shook his hand. Certainly a different mood to an occupation.

The inscription in the card highlighted that the bank’s investment policy in energy still had a long way to go, but was heading in the right direction:

Thank you Westpac Bank’s for your new climate policy which effectively rules out financing the Adani project and funding for all coal mines in the Galilee Basin. But you lent more than 3 times more to fossil fuel projects than renewables in 2016. Your $10 billion target for lending to climate change solutions by 2020 and $25 billion by 2030 is a positive move. Thank you Westpac Bank for starting to act on climate change.

The Commonwealth Bank is right next door to Westpac bank on Sydney Road Coburg. We were already there and used the opportunity for speeches and sing some songs. Some of the Commbank bank workers came just to outside the door to watch the protest. More watched from safely inside (along with a security guard who I’m sure was there to prevent an occupation of the premises).

Councillor Sue Bolton from Moreland Council attended the rally outside. Awareness of climate change is high in Moreland with 85 percent of voters in Wills in one of the Votecompass surveys being in favour of carbon pricing. Moreland Council passed a motion to oppose the Adani coal project at the February Council meeting.

In 2015 the Commonwealth Bank cancelled a financial advice contract with Adani while continuing ongoing banking business with Adani Australia. The Commonwealth bank maintains a silence on whether it will finance the Adani project, and refuses to publicly rule out investment in the project.

We had about 35 people as part of the protest outside Westpac and Commonwealth Bank. As Peter Khalil hadn’t accepted our invite to attend, we made our way down to Munro street and his electoral office.

While Peter Khalil has issued a statement (PDF) that he opposes subsidies to the Adani coal project, he refuses to publicly oppose the project itself. And this is despite him signing the climate emergency declaration in December 2016 and wanting to make climate change one of his important issues when he met with us in December 2016.

So we massed around the front of Peter Khalil’s electorate office singing a few songs and a few chants.

We really do want Peter Khalil to speak up on climate change and oppose the Adani Carmichael coal mine, both in the media and in parliament. It is a climate bomb, he knows it, and he needs to publicly speak out to oppose the mine, not just public subsidies.

Anything less and he is failing to represent the electors of Wills.

Social Media interaction

Later that day a social media interaction ensued with our local MP Peter Khalil:

(For the record: CAMoreland have only had one formal meeting in his office, in December 2015, although he may have met with some CAMoreland members individually)

(Note: while Peter wanted us to protest against the Libs, our climate colleagues in Kooyong climate were doing just that on Friday evening in Climate and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg’s Kooyong electorate at Camberwell junction – See photos)

Photos from the day
(also available in high resolution at Flickr)

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Entry filed under: Adani, campaigns, coal export, news, rallies & protests. Tags: , , , , .

Federal Climate policy review (2017) submission by climate groups Wills MP Peter Khalil states that Adani mine should not go ahead.

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