November 2, 2013

One hundred customers divest from Commonwealth Bank

Over one hundred Commonwealth Bank customers have publicly closed their accounts in protest of the bank’s role as a major lender to the fossil fuel industry. Activities in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth follow on from similar protests yesterday in Byron Bay and Canberra, where customers dressed in t-shirts reading “Commbank chose fossil fuels so I chose another bank” collectively closed their accounts. The activities follow a similar action in Melbourne at ANZ’s Bourke St Mall Branch last weekend.

Hundreds of customers of the big four banks (ANZ, NAB and Westpac) have this year been putting their bank “on notice”, warning that unless loans to coal and gas projects stop, the customers will take their money elsewhere. Today is the largest signal to date that Commonwealth customers will be making good on their word.

“I was horrified to learn that Commonwealth Bank was so heavily invested in activities that are damaging the Great Barrier Reef and increasing greenhouse gas emissions”, said Mark Doyle who closed his Commonwealth account today in Brisbane. “The sooner I could take my money out the better, and I can’t think of a more effective way to tell the bank that they’re not going to fund environmental destruction with my money.”

Commonwealth Bank has loaned over $1.5 billion to coal and gas export ports along Australia’s East Coast since 2008 – many of the projects located inside the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Yesterday saw the release of the Government’s Draft Strategic Assessment of the Great Barrier Reef, the same day on which a major new mine that would export 30 million tonnes of coal per year through the Reef – GVK’s “Kevin’s Corner” – was approved by Environment Minister Greg Hunt.

Market Forces Lead Campaigner Julien Vincent said: “Fossil fuel exports in the Great Barrier Reef have it on the fast track to the World Heritage in Danger list. With political will absent when it comes to preventing the further expansion of the dirty fossil fuel industry, Australians are going to need the finance sector to step up and show some responsibility.”

“Ironically, given Commonwealth Bank’s latest “my spend” marketing campaign boasting “now you can see where you money goes” – a groundswell of Commonwealth customers is now questioning the Banks use of their money to fund community and climate devastation,” said campaigns director Charlie Wood.

For further information about this campaign, visit

Photos of the activities are available here.