A recently published article contains a stern critique of Westpac over their continuing financial support of coal miners Bathurst Resources, who have now begun removing “overburden” (i.e. the ecosystem) from the Denniston Plateau in preparation for larger-scale coal mining when and if international coal prices rise. In the article, Kath Dewar says:
By contrast Westpac has been less savvy. Heralded in 2011 as a leader of sustainability, since November 2013 the bank has been repeatedly embarrassed by media coverage of protests triggered by its lending practices. Westpac’s loans to Bathurst, the company poised to open-cast mine the Denniston Plateau conservation area for coal, despite significant environmental opposition, make the bank’s efforts to cut the climate footprint climate impact of its office operations seem tokenistic. Such ‘green-wash’ is easily seen as hypocritical and 94% of NZers say they “get annoyed when products try to pass themselves off as greener than they really are” (source: Colmar Brunton, 2011).
Right on the point, you might think, but not a new criticism – until you discover that this article appeared in the blog of the Marketing Association of New Zealand. The article Scrubbing up grubby brands and clean slate competition is well worth reading, and it’s very noticeable that Westpac is now being called out for its greenwashing even within the business community.
If you’d like to increase the pressure on Westpac, please sign the CANA/350.org.nz letter to Westpac CEO Peter Clare and get involved in the campaign for Westpac to divest from Bathurst Resources.