Pacific Warriors blockade ANZ headquarters as divestment debate heats up

Intro

The debate over Australia’s rapid fossil fuel expansion and abandonment of climate action escalated significantly this week, with activists stepping up peaceful protest actions against dirty banks, the Minerals Council and mining firms; while government ministers and sections of the media continue to respond with “almost hystericalattacks on the divestment movement. A group of about 80 protesters joined the Pacific Climate Warriors to occupy ANZ’s corporate headquarters in Melbourne to protest the bank’s financing of new fossil fuel, linking it to climate change impacts on the Pacific Islands. The protest comes soon after a successful blockade of Newcastle coal port, and has been flanked by solidarity occupation protests Canberra and Perth. Meanwhile, divestment actions are also increasing despite frontrunners like the Australian National University being bullied by the government and vested interests. 1,000 people divested $200 million from dirty banks on Saturday, while 400 Sydney University Alumni and 105 University of New South Wales academics have published open letters calling on their universities to abandon fossil fuel investments.

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  • MT @350Australia: Australians stand in solidarity with the Pacific at #ANZ headquarters @ANZ_AU #StandUpForThePacific http://t.co/yAk7QcUM59

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Key quotes

  • “It is very important for us to take direct actions against climate change because it is threatening our lives and our islands. Our land is the most valuable treasure in our lives and the impacts of climate change will destroy it. We don’t want this to happen and we will not allow it to happen.” Mikaele Maiava from Tokelau.
  • “The Minerals Council are the strongest advocates for the expansion of the fossil fuel industry in Australia.  As Australia’s peak coal body they have vigorously lobbied government, industry and community groups in attempts to double Australia’s coal exports over the next ten years. We have listened to and understand the stark reality facing the Pacific Climate Warriors and it seems reasonable to us that the Minerals Council also listen to these concerns.” Canberra sit-in spokesperson Josh Creaser.
  • “Buru Energy have recklessly ignored the science of climate change and the potential impacts on water, sacred sites and the Kimberley. What Buru Energy are proposing is a huge expansion of risky unconventional gas in the Kimberley region of WA. These plans not only threaten this beautiful region, but will result in a massive increase in greenhouse gas emissions. Buru Energy have said they will not continue with these plans unless they have the social license of the community.” Action spokesperson Jaime Yallup Farrant.
  • I’ve been unable to keep up with all the divestment announcements. Fund managers were talking about climate change for a while and now we are starting to see the results. I know there are institutions talking about divesting, they are concerned from a climate and financial standpoint. We had no idea we’d be in this position a year ago, when it was just a couple of dozen of us in front of ANZ in Bourke Street in Melbourne. Tony Abbott is already on the wrong side of history when it comes to climate change. ANU is a sign that the campaign is gathering momentum and that it has the government scared.” Market Forces campaigner Julien Vincent.
  • “Regardless of this high-level bullying it is clear the broader community still believes universities, churches, superannuation industry funds and mum and dad investors have the right to invest their money in a way that sees good returns and does not compromise their personal values.” Greenpeace Climate & Energy Campaigner, Nikola Casule.
  • “Tony Abbott has well and truly demolished Australia’s standing as a world leader in addressing global warming. We were the best and now we are the worst. Not only does the Abbott Government have a shameful track record on climate leadership but it is also trying to wind back more than 30 years’ worth of environment protection by devolving federal environmental approval powers to state governments.” Australian Greens leader Senator Christine Milne.
  • “Supporting further expansion of the fossil fuel industry is no longer an option for a progressive society focused on long term sustainability. We believe that as a highly regarded educational and social institution, UNSW can and must take a leading role in the move away from fossil fuel use toward a sustainable and equitable future. The University should commit to the divestment of any direct and externally managed shareholdings from the fossil fuel industry.”  UNSW Academics Open Letter to Vice Chancellor
  • An investment in Whitehaven Coal also flies in the face of your own personal commitments to seizing the ‘opportunity to appreciate the richness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and culture as part of their story and identity’. The Maules Creek mine site contains dozens of sites of cultural significance to the Gomeroi traditional owners, including scar trees and burial sites. Some of these sites have already been destroyed by Whitehaven Coal to make way for the Maules Creek mine and more remain at risk. Open letter by 400 Sydney University Alumni in Honi Soit, the student newspaper.

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More tweets

  • MT @ali_m_martin: powerful video of Pacific #ClimateWarriors occupying the Melbourne offices of @ANZ_AU  https://t.co/2hRHwk2TBi
  • MT @NoFrontiersNews: #ClimateWarriors give firsthand testimony on #risingsealevels #climatechange at @ANZ_AU HQ http://t.co/VxuxTYieDZ
  • RT @akaWACA: #standupforthepacific #ClimateWarriors  we are still here 8 hours on – ANZ Divest from fossil fuels http://t.co/J6h3SxJt7M
  • RT @andrewbradleyhc: Interesting piece by @IGCC_Update Forget #divestment, all capital markets are queasy on #climate http://t.co/XUnDhNXVsQ
  • RT @ClimateSpec: 102 UNSW academics write open letter calling on vice-chancellor to divest from fossil fuels http://t.co/QsW2dKDXMg