Category Archives: 350

Urgent civil disobedience with 350: what does it feel like?

I found the direct action at the ANZ inspiring and necessary. Here is a snapshot of what a non-violent direct action can feel like.

At the briefing the previous night, we asked questions, especially about arrest, and ran through what we’d do during the action. Snacks, goodwill and optimism were abundant and this theme continued the next morning.

At about 8 am a wall of coal sacks blocked the doors. We linked arms and sang songs. Others handed out leaflets to explain the purpose of the civil disobedience or spoke to media, and buses tooted their support for our divestment message on a prominent banner, with our oil spattered climbers standing on the awning above. Police were present, but not threatening or intimidating towards the main group of protestors.

I ended up sitting next to another doctor. We discussed how emergencies require urgent responses. If you had a heart attack in front of me, I wouldn’t tell you to come back in 2 weeks if your heart attack didn’t feel better. Likewise, urgent direct action is necessary for the health emergency of climate change. It felt good to be doing the right thing.

ANZ  were keen to avoid media coverage. Some customers wanted to get in, but even an older couple who needed to get arrangements for travel sorted that morning told us they supported what we were doing, and were able to get what they needed after some discussion.

By 11 am the lights inside went off, a sign saying they’d closed up for the day was stuck on the door and the remaining staff trailed out through a side exit. Our roof climbers with the banner came down, and we sang waiata of support as they were issued with trespass notices, which was all done in a civilised and friendly manner.

The day was a success, no one was arrested or hurt, and we didn’t have to use the fortitude we had built up the previous night, nor the learned skills of dealing with forcible removal.

Business as usual cannot continue, and breakfree2016 actions around the world coordinated by 350 made that clear. There are risks involved, of arrest, of having force used against you, of upsetting people, and perhaps most worrying of all, of this not producing the changes we urgently need.

This event gave me courage to engage in similar actions again. Between courage and hope, we may have all we need to produce transformation.

“The most common way people give up power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

Alice Walker

 

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Global Divestment Day Is Coming. Here’s How To Take Part.

Global Divestment Day spans continents and time zones. It’s being held worldwide on February 13th and 14th – and there are five New Zealand events for you to get involved in.

So what is Global Divestment Day? It’s a day organised by 350.org to increase the pressure on banks and other institutions, as well as individuals, to withdraw their investments from fossil fuel companies: the miners, drillers, frackers and their backers who are ruining our planet’s climate by their continued extraction of fossil fuels.

Our goal of coal staying in the hole:  achieved!

Let’s keep all the coal in the hole – and stop investing in companies trying to remove it

And it’s a movement that’s gaining momentum. Here in Aotearoa, thanks to the efforts of 350.org.nz, Coal Action Network Aotearoa and other groups, we’ve seen churches, universities and local bodies divest from fossil fuels. On Valentine’s Day, let’s come together to show how much we love the planet and how little we love fossil fuels and those who seek to profit from them.

We’re aware of five events in New Zealand – each is listed on the GDD global map and on Facebook. Please note that the Dunedin event is on Friday 13 February. The other events are on Saturday 14 February:

Matauri Bay: The Big Beach Picnic, Sat 14 Feb, 10.00am, Matauri Bay, Northland. Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1596914170539548/

Auckland: Flash Mob, Sat 14 Feb, 12 noon, Silo Park, Corner Jellicoe & Beaumont Streets, Wynyard Quarter, Auckland. Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/739039812870728

Hamilton: Picnics and Placards, Sat 14 Feb, 5:00 PM, Hamilton Garden Arts Festival – English Rose Garden. Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1530734060526545/

Christchurch: Love Divestment Day, Sat 14 Feb, 1.oopm, Edmonds Garden, 365 Ferry Road. Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/632797643492987/

Dunedin: Renewable Affair, Fri 13 Feb, 12 noon, The Octagon, Dunedin. Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/625548474240288/

Get along and help build the pressure for worldwide divestment from fossil fuels!

 

 

 

Honey I shrunk the board!

the Real stakeholder meetingBathurst’s annual shareholder meeting took place on Friday morning, with activists holding their own, alternative shareholder meeting.

Our press release, and images are below, but meanwhile the board meeting itself produced some interesting results:  Bathurst is so strapped for cash that it has had to lay off board members. It is still waiting for international coal prices to rise, but we don’t think this is going to happen any time soon.

Over in Australia, coal giant Glencore has even stopped mining for three weeks: paying its 8000 workers holiday pay is cheaper than digging cheap coal out of the ground.

Here’s our Press Release and pix of the action. Continue reading

The real deal on Westpac’s coal funding

It's not to late to change banks in time for our week of action.

It’s not to late to change banks in time for our week of action.

When we started our campaign against Westpac because of its investment in Bathurst Resources, the company bit back.

No, no, we don’t invest in Denniston, they said.

We were investing in Bathurst before they were planning Denniston, they said.

The facilities we have with them relate to their existing operations, they said. Nothing to do with Denniston, they said.

While we have written to Westpac to clarify all of these points, we haven’t heard back.  They’ve gone silent, instead promoting their so-called sustainability.  But Bathurst’s half yearly report, released recently, is very useful and has provided all the information we think we need.

It certainly doesn’t tell us anything that would lead us to call off the campaign, as Westpac thinks we should.

The Bathurst report (page 18) goes into great detail on its relationship with Westpac  – perhaps in response to our campaign.  Here’s the detail on Westpac from that report:

“In July 2012, the Group obtained a finance facility with Westpac New Zealand Limited for the acquisition of a new mining fleet. The total amount available and drawn on the facility as at 31 December 2013 was $3.5 million.”

This new mining fleet is currently being deployed at the Cascade mine, just down from Escarpment (Denniston).  The thing is, Bathurst’s mining all it can out of Cascade, because it needs as much money as it can to fund the new mine. 

Will none of that fleet be used to take the beautiful Denniston plateau apart?  Even if it isn’t, all of Bathurst’s mines are being used to finance the new one.  So it’s a bit silly to claim they’re not related.

It’s also a bit silly to claim, as they do, that their investments in Bathurst were made before the company had made any plans to mine Denniston.  Bathurst’s whole entry into New Zealand was always all about Denniston and the coking coal up on that plateau.  They’ve bought up all the mines they currently own in order to get this new mine (and the next five mines next to it) up and running.

Next quote from Bathurst’s report:

 “In addition, the Group has with Westpac New Zealand Limited a term loan $1.2m, finance lease facilities $0.3m, and bank overdraft facilities which were unused at 31 December 2013.”

There are no caveats here about where this money from Bathurst’s term loan with Westpac should be spent.  Again, this is about Bathurst having enough money to keep going and start digging up the Denniston Plateau.

Right now the company is in dire financial straits, not helped by the low price of coking coal.  But it’s abundantly clear to us that Westpac is helping this company keep afloat through both loans: the $3.5million loan for its mining fleet and the $1.2million loan and the finance lease facilities.

While Bathurst has said this all-time low price of coal means they won’t start digging any up yet, (while laying off 29 workers), once it gets all the permits approved, it plans to start readying the Denniston Plateau for mining.

We have yet to find out whether this includes removing all the “overburden” [read: beauty, biodiversity], but, with Forest & Bird, have called on them not to do this and for the Minister of Conservation to hold back his permission.

We also note that the Buller District Council is getting very excited about the planning permissions being signed off. It looks like Bathurst may be clear of all the red tape pretty soon.

So it’s still a great time –  if you’re a Westpac customer who wants to do something about Bathurst’s plans to dig up a beautiful part of New Zealand for coal that will ultimately end up in the sky and contribute to climate change – to

Sign up to Make the switch!

It’s not too late to switch away from Westpac in time for our Week of Action beginning 7th April around the country.  So get switching people!

Final note: Westpac is also one of the banks propping up Solid Energy, who, along with Bathurst Resources, are both pretty shaky companies. You’d think they might learn that coal is a bad investment on so many levels.  Maybe they should follow the path of Bill Koch (younger brother to the infamous Koch Industries brothers), who is getting out of the coal mining industry because, in his words, it “has kind of died.”

Customers queue to demand end to Westpac support of Denniston coal mine

DumpDennistonLogoCoalPress Release from Coal Action Network Aotearoa & 350 Aotearoa

Today Westpac customers queued at the Wellington Cuba Street Westpac branch, 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 forced to leave by Westpac staff despite being Westpac’s own customers.

westpac_image

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 its 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 5 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.”

For more coverage and photos from the action see http://350.org.nz/wednesday-westpac-dump-coal-action-in-wellington/

Nationwide week of action calls on Westpac to stop financing climate change

DumpDennistonLogoCoalPress Release from Coal Action Network Aotearoa & 350 Aotearoa

Westpac banks right across New Zealand will be the focus of a week of action this week, calling on the bank to stop funding Bathurst Resources’ bid to mine the Denniston Plateau.

The campaign, organised by 350 Aotearoa and Coal Action Network Aotearoa, began at a leading branch of Westpac in Christchurch on Saturday with around 20 activists staging a “die in” (see YouTube video). Actions will begin rolling out in other centres today, and will continue until next Saturday, with a total of 13 different towns confirmed at this point.

Bathurst Resources plans to dig up to 84 million tonnes of coal from the West Coast’s beautiful Denniston Plateau that would add up to 218 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and have a devastating effect on the area’s unique ecosystem. Westpac is providing financial backing for Bathurst Resources.

‘Westpac has not responded to calls to live up to their own promises and stop funding climate change, so we’re calling on them to do so.  We don’t consider investing in coal mining is at all consistent with Westpac’s claims that it is ‘future proofing’ its business,” said Ashlee Gross of 350 Aotearoa.

Tim Jones of Coal Action Network Aotearoa said the two groups had recently met with bank executives for a discussion about the campaign.

“In our meeting with Westpac, it became very clear to us that their so-called ‘sustainability’ policy is more about PR than it is about real action,” he said.

At least 80% of fossil fuels reserves must remain unburned in order to keep global warming to 2 degrees. The World Bank and European Investment Bank have recently announced their intentions to stop lending to coal projects, based on climate change concerns

The groups have launched a website where the public can send letters to Westpac calling on them to ‘Dump Denniston.’. 1200 letters have already been sent.

There will be activities this week in Warkworth, Auckland (2), Hamilton, Tauranga, Gisborne, Wellington, Nelson, Motueka, Takaka, Dunedin, Gore and Invercargill.

Join the event on facebook 

Norwegian Pension Fund Divests From Bathurst Resources

CANA press release from 13 November

Coal Action Network Aotearoa’s Tim Jones says the campaign to save the West Coast’s Denniston Plateau is not over, even though Forest and Bird have decided not to appeal an Environment Court ruling signing off on a planned coal mine on the plateau.

“The world is turning its back on coal. And shareholders are getting out of Bathurst Resources” Mr Jones said. “The Norwegian Pension Fund, Norges, which holds just over $2 million in Bathurst shares, is divesting from coal. And our campaign with 350 Aotearoa, asking the Westpac Bank to stop backing Bathurst Resources, is growing fast. It’s time for Westpac to follow the Norwegians.”

“Well over 1000 people have written letters to Westpac asking the bank to stop financing the destruction of the Denniston Plateau. New Zealanders understand the importance of this stand for our country and for the climate. The coal is still in the hole, the world is changing fast and our campaign is only growing – unlike Bathurst Resources’ long-suffering shareholders.”

“To stay below the agreed two degree limit of global warming and minimise the risk of runaway climate change, climate scientists have warned that most of the industry’s coal reserves have to remain in the ground as unburnable carbon. They will be stranded assets on coal companies’ books, worth nothing.”

“Investors see the writing on the wall – Bathurst shares are not bankable in a climate change future”

Coal Action Network Aotearoa iscampaigning for a sensible phasing out of coal, with no new coal mines and appropriate support for mining communities to develop alternative livelihoods.

“Our aim, of no new coal, is in line with the rest of the world. Hamish Bohannan and Bathurst Resources are trying to profit from an old technology that we know is perilous to future generations. Alternatives to coking coal are being developed now. Coking coal is not essential to a prosperous future as the industry will have us believe” Mr Jones said. “In fact digging up more coal and adding to climate change puts a prosperous future at risk. The world does not need Denniston coal. It should stay right where it is, propping up one of New Zealanders’ most treasured wild places.”

Tim Jones
Spokesperson
Coal Action Network Aotearoa
027 359 0293