Forest & Bird leaves bank over fossil fuel investments

New Zealand's largest independent conservation organisation is moving its bank accounts from ANZ because of serious concerns over the bank’s investments in fossil fuels.

Forest & Bird asked ANZ for a fossil fuel divestment plan in 2016, but hasn’t been satisfied with the company’s response, and will formally shift accounts away from the organisation in May this year.

“It’s important that the companies we do business with are not investing in fossil fuels. That’s not an industry that is part of a sustainable future for our planet,” says Forest & Bird Climate Advocate Adelia Hallett, speaking on behalf of Forest & Bird’s Board.

According to 350 Aotearoa, ANZ has loaned $24.9 billion NZD to fossil fuel companies since 2008.

Forest & Bird’s Board has confirmed the organisation will move from ANZ in favour of a bank with stronger environmental credentials.

“We accept Kiwibank’s assurance they do not currently lend to fossil fuel companies. However, they are aware that we want to see this become a permanent public commitment,” says Ms Hallett.

“Climate change is a major threat to New Zealand’s unique and threatened native species. Across the globe, the fossil fuel industry has been responsible for major environmental damage and the loss of important natural habitats.

“Forest & Bird has always opposed environmentally damaging fossil fuel extraction. We’ve opposed oil and gas block offers, a succession of coal mining proposals on the Stockton and Denniston Plateaux, and we're currently involved in two legal challenges of the proposed Te Kuha coal mine near Westport."

“Forest & Bird has taken cases in the Environment Court, High Court, and Supreme Court in relation to mining fossil fuels, including the climate change impact of mining these minerals.

"Forest & Bird doesn’t invest in fossil fuels and it is important to us that our banking provider supports this.

“We encourage other organisations in New Zealand to look at the investment practices of their banks. This is an action we can all take on climate change. By demanding responsible investment practices, we can change the way this country, and the world, does business.”