Divestment from fossil fuels

do_the_math_logoan open letter to the CEO of the ANZ Bank

For Personal Attention: Mike Smith, CEO

Dear Mike,

I figure you’re a decent chap. You’re quoted as saying: “We are focussed on growing our business responsibly, managing risks rather than taking them and approach our role in society with a heightened sense of duty and care towards our customers and the communities we serve.”

You’ve achieved that on one level. Your branch staff are some of the most efficient, knowledgeable, helpful and best-trained workers I’ve come across in retail banking. Well done.

But there’s a serious problem with ANZ activities on the national and international level. Consider these two questions:

  • Would you say it’s wrong to do things that are seriously harmful to the planet’s ecosystem?
  • Would you say it’s wrong to profit financially from doing things that are seriously harmful to the planet’s ecosystem?

So that’s the issue. Is it true that ANZ Bank continues to invest in fossil fuel exploration and extraction? Is it true that ANZ Bank and its investors continue to make profits from destroying the planet’s ecosystem?

Isn’t that criminal?

At Copenhagen in 2009 the international community agreed that it was too dangerous to allow the planet to warm more than 2 degrees.

The international consensus of scientists is that to limit warming to 2 degrees, 350ppm of carbon in the atmosphere is the limit. But we’ve already passed 400ppm.

So what does this mean?

  • Only about 20% of the known reserves of fossil fuels will ever be able to be used.
  • It’s foolhardy to invest in further exploration when known reserves are already 5 times what can be safely used.
  • Consequently the price of fossil fuels and the value of fossil fuel investments will collapse.

I have two concerns:

  • As an ANZ customer I object strongly to the bank making profits from fossil fuels.
  • As an ANZ customer I have concerns about the bank’s exposure to investments that will inevitably crash in value as the global community progressively outlaws fossil fuel development and use.

Please don’t reply to this letter with a form letter thanking me for my input. Here’s what I want from you:

  • I challenge you to sit down with your family and friends to watch Bill McKibben’s YouTube video “Do the Math“. When your family asks “what are you going to do about it”, answer them honestly.
  • Insist that all of your senior investment managers read Bill McKibben’s article in Rolling Stone magazine “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math“.
  • For an Australian perspective read “Unburnable Carbon: Australia’s carbon bubble“.
  • Then write back to me and let me know what your plan is for an orderly and responsible divestment from fossil fuels.

Thank you for your serious attention to this letter; that might well be the most important action you take as CEO of the bank.

Yours sincerely,

Brian Loffler

Action ideas:
Send a similar letter to other institutions that you’re involved with that have fossil fuel investments:

  • Banks
  • Superannuation Funds
  • The Australian Government Future Fund
  • Churches and other faith-communities
  • Universities

Sign up for updates from 350.org.

4 thoughts on “Divestment from fossil fuels

  1. Thanks so much Brian!!! So great to see this today (Bill McKibben tweeted it to his 86k followers and we’ll post it on our 350.org Aust facebook page.

    If you get a chance, give Bill’s Australian tour a plug – he’ll be here from 3 June touring four cities and talking about DOING THE MATHS on climate!

    thanks and wish we could get to Adelaide – next trip!

  2. Pingback: Imagining a nation free of fossil fuel investment | Blog – New Internationalist Australia

  3. Thank you, Brian. Beautifully written, and it will serve me as a guide to my own campaign to the banks, super funds, managed funds, etc.

  4. Pingback: Divestment: Can moving our money move us beyond coal? | Blog - New Internationalist AustraliaBlog – New Internationalist Australia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *