Cleaning up our power

Divest from coal

Coal-burning power stations have lost their social licence to continue polluting our air and damaging our climate. It is time for investors, governments and communities to prepare for the transition away from coal power.

ANZ divests from Hazelwood

UPDATE: Thanks to the efforts of Environment Victoria supporters ANZ has cut the dirty credit to Hazelwood power station!

Because you called, emailed and threatened to divest your money from ANZ, the bank has not renewed a US $147 million loan to Hazelwood.

Financing this loan would have flown in the face of ANZ’s climate change policy of doing their bit to limit global warming to below 2 degrees.

This is one of many recent events signalling the end of Hazelwood’s polluting operations. It adds to recent decisions that have driven up the operating costs of the polluting power station, like the state government’s moves to increase coal royalties and mine rehabilitation bonds.

Hazelwood’s owner ENGIE, has now announced that the power station will close in March 2017. Decisions like ANZ’s demonstrated that Hazelwood had lost its social licence to continue polluting our air and damaging our climate.

It’s time for investors, governments and communities to prepare for the transition away from coal power.

Read more about the campaign to stop ANZ bankrolling pollution below.

Banks aren’t the only ones that can divest from coal projects. Find out how you can ensure that your home loan is not invested in fossil fuel projects, and help Environment Victoria at the same time.

Divest your home loan

Hazelwood is Australia’s oldest, dirtiest and most dangerous power station. So dirty, in fact, that it’s one of the most polluting in the entire world.

In February 2014, a fire broke out in the Hazelwood coal mine, which became a public health and environmental disaster. For 45 days and nights, toxic ash and smoke blanketed the town of Morwell, covering the homes of 15,000 people.

Battling a dismissive corporation and an indifferent state government, the community rallied for action – and eventually secured an inquiry, which found that the fire most likely contributed to an increase in deaths in the Latrobe Valley.

It was the worst air pollution disaster in Victoria’s history.

Where ANZ comes in

We know that just months after this tragic Hazelwood mine fire ANZ handed over a loan of US$147 million to the owners of Hazelwood power station. This was just the latest in a long history of the bank providing financial support to polluting and dangerous projects.

In 2015, ANZ released a revised statement on climate change, where they promised to do their bit:

“We support the goal of governments around the world seeking to limit the average global temperature rise to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. ANZ as a responsible and sustainable business is playing its part to support the transition to a decarbonised economy.”[1]

In this statement, ANZ promised not to finance any new ‘conventional’ coal power stations, but didn’t rule out financing coal projects that have already been built. Hazelwood power station is as old and conventional as they come, and is alone responsible for about 15 percent of Victoria’s carbon pollution. Giving any more money to Hazelwood power station would have clearly been inconsistent with ANZ’s commitment to be a responsible and sustainable business

What we asked of ANZ

ANZ had a new CEO and a new climate change policy, which made the expiry of this loan an important test. We communicated to them that if they are truly serious about keeping temperature rise below two degrees, they had to end their association with Australia’s oldest and dirtiest power station.

We asked ANZ to make an example of this issue and show that “responsible and sustainable businesses” do not fund projects that cause damage to our climate and community.

Coal-burning power stations are the biggest single cause of global warming in Australia. Governments need to step up to their responsibilities and start phasing out coal generators, but banks are part of the equation too. Without bank financing, these polluting projects wouldn’t exist.

What we did to win

We called, emailed and met with decision makers at the bank to ask them to cut the dirty credit. We communicated to ANZ the extent of Hazelwood’s pollution to the climate and disregard for the local community.

When months went passed and we heard no news from the bank, we took our campaign to the next level.

Partnering with divestment experts, Market Forces, we asked our supporters to put ANZ on notice over this dirty loan.

Hundreds of ANZ customers sent a powerful message to ANZ by threatening to close their bank accounts and home loans with the bank if they renewed the loan to Hazelwood. Environment Victoria supporters put over $37 million on the line.

And the bank heard us.

In July the owners of Hazelwood reported that they had refinanced the loan themselves, which means the bank did not renew it.

Decisions like ANZ’s demonstrate that Hazelwood and all coal-burning power stations have lost their social licence to continue polluting our air and damaging our climate. It is time for investors, governments and communities to prepare for the transition away from coal power.

[1] http://www.anz.com/about-us/corporate-sustainability/governance-risk/climate-change/

Cleaning up our power

It's time to make the transition from polluting coal to clean, renewable energy. Tell the federal government we need a national plan to phase out coal while supporting affected communities.