More than a dozen activists marched through the sliding glass doors of ASB's headquarters on the Auckland waterfront last Tuesday, stationing themselves beside the giant yellow block letters of the banking corporation's logo to send a message to the company to divest from the fossil fuel industry.
Representatives from New Zealand environmental organisation Aotearoa 350 decided to stage the demonstration at ASB's flagship building after hearing rumors that the bank's parent company, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, is engaged in talks with India mining industry titan Adani Group to finance one of the world's largest fossil fuel projects.
"We're protesting because ASB is a subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and the Commonwealth Bank is rumored to be funding some coal projects in the Galilee Basin in Australia," says 350 Aotearoa national director Niamh O'Flynn.
If given the green light, the Galilee Basin and Abbot Point coal port expansions will account for six per cent of the world's carbon budget, O'Flynn says. The projects are likely to have negative effects on the treasured Great Barrier Reef, which faces increasing environmental threats from the fossil fuel industry.
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"It has huge environmental implications as well as implications for the climate," O'Flynn says of the project proposal.
Protesters, carrying banners with the slogans "THE WORLD IS WATCHING YOU" and "ASB/CBA DON'T FUND CLIMATE CHAOS", delivered a huge postcard addressed to Commonwealth Bank, care of ASB, urging the corporation not to fund the Galilee Basin project.
The demonstration was part of more than 100 actions that took place at Commonwealth Bank offices across Australia and worldwide in cities including New York, London, Edinburgh and Tokyo.
"It's a really good opportunity to show the link between the banking industry and the fossil fuel industry, and it's an opportunity to show these banks that people are very concerned about climate change," says O'Flynn. "They want their money to be used for good."
Representatives from local independent grassroots media union Front Line Arts Collective were present for the Tuesday demonstration. By collecting footage for a video, Front Line Arts Collective says in a statement that they hoped to share Aotearoa 350's inspiring message to hold multinational corporations like Commonwealth Bank accountable for their actions and consider social responsible when making investments.