A series of rolling protests took place this morning at Commonwealth Bank branches across Newcastle, as concerned CommBank customers and other Newcastle residents join people around the country calling on the bank to publicly rule out finance for the dangerous Galilee Basin coal mining project and the associated Abbot Point coal port expansion on the Great Barrier Reef.
Over 40 people participated in the protest - including some who have closed their CommBank accounts due to the bank’s mining investments and is one of over 100 community actions taking place at CommBank branches across Australia and around the world this week. The protests are an escalation of a growing campaign against financial institutions that provide backing for fossil fuel projects, the greatest single driver of greenhouse pollution and climate change.
Nine of the world’s largest investment banks, including Citibank, have ruled out funding new coal export terminals in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area - however the Commonwealth Bank continues to stay silent on whether it will fund these projects.
Su Morley from Climate Action Newcastle said, “We are here to show CommBank that their customers and communities right across Australia don’t support mega coal mines in the Galilee Basin nor massive coal ports on the Great Barrier Reef.”
“More coal mines will fuel worsening climate change. Here in the Hunter, we’ve just experienced our second “once in a century” storm in a decade. We know these events bring tragedy and disruption to every home and every business - the environment pays, the community pays. It’s clear that these polluting industries are just not worth it and we don’t want our bank putting any more money into coal.”
CommBank, already Australia’s largest funder of fossil fuel projects on the Great Barrier Reef, is rumoured to be in advanced talks with Indian mining company, Adani to fund this next dangerous and unpopular project.
Su Morley said “The one thing that’s crazier than sending hundreds of millions of tonnes of polluting coal on bulk carriers through the Great Barrier Reef, is believing that customers will stand by you after you’ve helped to bankroll such a disastrous plan. This national campaign will continue until CommBank publicly rules out these projects.”
Vanessa Wiebford from the Hunter Community Environment Centre says, “Here in Newcastle we’re already living in the worlds largest coal port, we know the health impacts this is having on our local communities throughout the Hunter and Newcastle We’re fighting our own proposed new coal terminal here, so understand the dismay of people in Bowen and the Whitsundays that are fighting to stop huge new coal terminals at Abbot Point in Queensland.”
Mrs Wiebford concluded, “Every day new science is made available about the impact this industry has on the rapidly changing climate and the Great Barrier Reef. People are divesting across the globe, they are standing up against industries that are detrimental to our planet and those who support them, to keep their customers, CommBank will need to listen to this.”
Most of the coal mines slated for the Galilee Basin would be larger than any others ever built in Australia.
They would be responsible for sending thousands of ships directly through the Great Barrier Reef every year.