Don’t Risk the Reef: Divest London Raises the Heat on the Doorstep of the Commonwealth Bank

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The Great Barrier Reef, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, is under attack by the fossil fuel industry. At a time when sensible companies are divesting from fossil fuels and shifting to renewable energy, the Indian coal company Adani wants to build two mega coal ports next to the World Heritage Site at Abbot Point and Galilee Basin, dredging through some of the most ecologically sensitive areas on the planet. Adani is doubling down on coal, arguably the most stranded of stranded assets. And the Commonwealth Bank of Australia is bankrolling it all.

According to recent Market Forces’ research, the Commonwealth Bank is the largest financier of fossil fuel projects on the Great Barrier Reef. To further invest in the Galilee Basin and Abbot Point coal port expansion would put CommBank at odds with 11 other major international banks that have already ruled out involvement with the project. This is an endeavour that 350.org has called the most insane coal project in the world. And we have to say we agree. The largest ever structure built by organic life, visible from space, is in danger of being killed off by a few companies guided by the reckless pursuit of profit.

So what are we to do?

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350.org has called for a global week of action to Raise the Heat on the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. On Thursday, Divest London joined the thousands of people taking action at Commonwealth Bank offices in Australia and around the world, telling the bank to say no to coal mines in the Galilee Basin and coal port expansion on the Great Barrier Reef.

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We asked you to grab your scuba gear, fish costumes, mermaids and coral polyps and join us at Commonwealth Bank’s London HQ to show them what we think of their fishy reef business. The results were brilliant and better than we could have even hoped for. You did not disappoint.

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Everyone came dressed as their favourite reef species…

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(some more enthusiastically than others)

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We danced to Disney’s ‘Under the Sea’, among other ocean themed songs, which you can find here

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…and we danced a little more.

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We shouted “Shame on you!” and urged the bank to scrap their plans to bankroll the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef.

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And finally we delivered a letter to the bank explaining our fishy protest and our commitment to keep this coal in the hole.

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Over 100 actions have taken place at Commonwealth offices across Australia and around the world, including New York, Edinburgh, Tokyo, Ho Chi Minh, and Auckland. Our action followed one held Wednesday in Edinburgh where activists thanked the Royal Bank of Scotland for ruling out funding this project and called on the Commonwealth Bank to do the same.

Indeed, public pressure has already forced several international banks to pull out from financing the mega coal ports. We can and will get the Commonwealth Bank to do the same to save the reef.

Scientists warn that global average temperatures cannot warm more than 2° C if we hope to stave off the worst threats of climate disruption, which means carbon intensive fossil fuels like coal must stay in the ground. If developed, Australia’s coal mining and Abbot Point port expansion proposal alone would chew through a staggering 6% of the world’s carbon budget, and experts warn it could easily send us over the climate cliff.

The Commonwealth Bank better get ready for a sea of protests because we’re not going off that climate cliff and we’re not losing Nemo.

– Your friends at Divest London

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