PACIFIC ISLANDS — Today, 350 Pacific volunteers across the region, known as the ‘Pacific Climate Warriors’, delivered letters to ANZ (The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group) asking them to divest from the fossil fuel industry as part of a new ‘divestment’ campaign launched in the Pacific Islands.
“We launched this campaign to call on businesses operating in the Pacific to remove all forms of support to the industry – the fossil fuel industry – that will destroy us,” said campaign spokesperson, Ms. Kathy Jetnil Kiljner, who recently addressed world leaders at the United Nations Climate Summit in September.
The Pacific Climate Warriors are taking their message to ANZ to commit to ruling out future loans to fossil fuel projects, and phase out existing loans over a five year period.
“Organizations and financial institutions, such as the ANZ, must align their money with their morals. They need to make socially responsible investments because it is not acceptable to profit from the destruction of our Pacific islands,” said Ms. Kiljner.
“While the Pacific Islands may seem small, business for the banks here is profitable and growing. It is a moral imperative that as banks continue to grow in the region they side with the people, not the polluters,” she added.
Over the past five years, ANZ has invested a total of $6.5 billion in fossil fuel projects, even when it is very clear that burning fossil fuels is the greatest man-made contributor to climate change and the destruction of the Pacific islands.
“Although many of our friends and families work for ANZ. Our fight is not with them, but with management at ANZ who guide where investments are made,” said George Nacewa 350 Fiji Coordinator. “With everything at stake in the face of climate change for our islands, we have to take every necessary step to protect our island homes,” added Nacewa.
“The divestment campaign has its place in the Pacific. What we are calling on, are institutions and organisations to move their investments from the fossil fuel industry to more renewable and cleaner sources of energy,” concluded Kiljner.
Earlier this year, the Anglican Church of New Zealand and Polynesia became the first in the worldwide Anglican Communion, to pledge to divest from fossil fuel companies later followed by Anglican Church in Australia. Currently the College of the Marshall Islands, are trying to get their campus to divest their endowment from fossil fuels. If they succeed, they would be the first College in the Pacific region to divest from fossil fuels.
Hoda Baraka (in Cairo), 350.org Global Communications Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org, +201001-840990
Fenton Lutunatabua (in Fiji), 350.org Pacific Communications Coordinator, email@example.com, +679 9247 235
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1- Photos available here
2- The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited, commonly called ANZ, is the third largest bank by market capitalisation in Australia, after the Commonwealth Bank and Westpac Banking Corporation.
3- The launching of this divestment campaign is the next phase of the 350 Pacific Stand Up for the Pacific Campaign, which first saw 30 Pacific Climate Warriors take their message directly to the fossil fuel industry, and blockade the world’s largest coal port.
5- Last month close to 100 Melbourne residents occupied ANZ’s global headquarters in Melbourne to stand in solidarity with Pacific Islanders whose homes and cultures are being destroyed by fossil fuel expansion.
6- For further information about ANZs investment in the fossil fuel industry, visit www.marketforces.org.au/banks
7- In Europe, Glasgow became the first university to divest last month with recent wins including the Swedish city of Örebro announcing its commitment to pull its funds out of fossil fuels. In the US, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, which controls about $860m in assets, announced its commitment to divest in September. A full list of divestment commitments can be found here.