Category Archives: Westpac

Stern Criticism of Westpac – From A Surprising Quarter

DumpDennistonLogoCoalA recently published article contains a stern critique of Westpac over their continuing financial support of coal miners Bathurst Resources, who have now begun removing “overburden” (i.e. the ecosystem) from the Denniston Plateau in preparation for larger-scale coal mining when and if international coal prices rise. In the article, Kath Dewar says:

By contrast Westpac has been less savvy.  Heralded in 2011 as a leader of sustainability, since November 2013 the bank has been repeatedly embarrassed by media coverage of protests triggered by its lending practices.  Westpac’s loans to Bathurst, the company poised to open-cast mine the Denniston Plateau  conservation area for coal, despite significant environmental opposition, make the bank’s efforts to cut the climate footprint  climate impact of its office operations seem tokenistic. Such ‘green-wash’ is easily seen as hypocritical and 94% of NZers say they “get annoyed when products try to pass themselves off as greener than they really are” (source: Colmar Brunton, 2011).

Right on the point, you might think, but not a new criticism – until you discover that this article appeared in the blog of the Marketing Association of New Zealand. The article Scrubbing up grubby brands and clean slate competition is well worth reading, and it’s very noticeable that Westpac is now being called out for its greenwashing even within the business community.

If you’d like to increase the pressure on Westpac, please sign the CANA/350.org.nz  letter to Westpac CEO Peter Clare and get involved in the campaign for Westpac to divest from Bathurst Resources.

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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.

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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/

Time is running out for the Denniston Plateau – Join the Westpac Week of Action

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Over the past few weeks over 1100 of us have sent a letter to Westpac asking them to stop funding climate change and coal mining on the Denniston Plateau. We’ve also visited their offices and branches in Auckland and Wellington to ask them to live up to their promises on sustainability.

With time running out for the beautiful and unique Denniston Plateau, it’s time to really put the pressure on Westpac to start walking the talk on climate change.

That’s why Coal Action Network Aotearoa and 350 Aotearoa are kicking off December with:

Westpac Week of Action
2nd-8th December
In a town or city near you!

From setting up “climate crime scenes” outside your local Westpac branch, to attention grabbing photos and stunts, we need you to get creative in towns across New Zealand.

How can you get involved?

There are already 8 regions planning activities. So if you’re in Auckland, Warkworth, Wellington, Nelson, Motueka, Takaka, Christchurch, or Southland, get in touch with your local organiser and join or help organise an event! The more people involved, the louder the message.

Not a group in your area already planning an event? If you are keen to help organise a Week of Action activity email us at coalactionnetwork@gmail.com. It can be as simple as a photo outside your Westpac branch or creating a climate crime scene, or you can come up with your own ideas.

Help make the Week of Action even bigger by inviting your friends to the Facebook event and forwarding this email.

And if you haven’t already, don’t forget to send a letter to Westpac CEO, Peter Clare: westpacdumpcoal.org.nz

Westpac says “we’ve put sustainability at the heart of our culture” and “our commitment to the environment covers our own operations as well as the impact of their products and services”.

Yet Westpac is financing Bathurst Resources’ plans to create one of New Zealand’s largest new contributors to climate change, and destroy the Denniston Plateau.

Let’s let them know that they need live up to their claims and stop funding climate destruction or risk losing their reputation and their customers.

Westpac: All greenwash, or will they walk the talk and dump coal?

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Westpac recently emailed a response to some of the many people who have been calling on them to remove their financial support from Bathurst Resources Ltd. They delegated the South Island Regional Manager, Gina Dellabarca, to make this response.

Unfortunately, the response calls further into question the truth behind Westpac’s own policies and commitments. In fact, our concerns around Westpac funding Bathurst Resources’ planned Denniston open cast mine, which, along with their other mines planned for the area, would release at least 218 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, have not been addressed at all.

Here is the response:

As Regional Manager, South Island, I have been asked to reply to your letter dated 15 October 2013 to our CEO regarding Bathurst Resources.

Thank you for contacting us with your concerns. I want to confirm as an organisation, we are committed to a lower carbon economy. As a society, this will take some time and Westpac takes its responsibility as a large corporate seriously, balancing the needs of the community in terms of economic growth, jobs, incomes and sustainable prosperity.

Westpac recognises that the transformation of the energy sector over the coming years will present a range of challenges. To achieve that, we believe a balanced approach is required and we will continue to work with all of our customers to help make this transition happen.

Regards,
Gina Dellabarca

Gina says Westpac is committed to a lower carbon economy, and that they take their responsibility as a large corporate seriously. They also claim on their website that “we’ve put sustainability at the heart of our culture” …“our commitment to the environment covers our own operations as well as the impact of their products and services”.

That sounds good. But having a commitment implies that your actions align with it. Gina’s answer doesn’t address how Westpac financing a new open cast coal mine, the biggest new threat to climate change in New Zealand, can possibly be consistent with this commitment. Continue reading

As Environment Court approves Denniston mine, all eyes on Westpac

UPDATE: Next Wednesday lunchtime in Wellington (13/11), help us tell Westpac to stop funding coal mining on the Denniston Plateau: https://www.facebook.com/events/218849471621945/

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Press Release
In the wake of the Environment Court’s approval of Bathurst’s opencast mine on the beautiful Denniston plateau, 350 Aotearoa and Coal Action Network Aotearoa today renewed their call for Westpac Bank to drop its support for the mine.

Already, more than 800 people have sent letters to Westpac as part of the “Westpac dump Denniston coal” campaign, launched last week in Auckland. This week saw a temporary “climate change crime scene” outside a main Westpac branch in Wellington catching the eye of lunchtime passersby, and many similar protests are expected to roll out across the country in the coming weeks as the campaign picks up. Continue reading

Westpac: Dump Denniston

dump_denniston_logo_smallToday CANA and 350 have jointly launched a campaign to persuade Westpac to stop lending to Bathurst Resources.

Bathurst Resources wants to turn the spectacular Denniston Plateau into a large open cast coal mine. And Westpac is helping to finance them.

Westpac’s financing helps Bathurst Resources pursue their plans to mine up to 84 million tonnes of coal on the West Coast’s Denniston Plateau and along the adjacent Buller plateau. This would put another 218 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.  

Tell Westpac you want them to stop funding climate change, especially coal mining on the Denniston Plateau.

Act Now To Save Denniston

Use this easy online form to send a letter to Westpac now.

Tell them to call in their loan and stop extending financing to Bathurst Resources Ltd. Continue reading