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article imageDeutsche Bank: No funds for coal port expansion

By Elke Nagy     May 23, 2014 in Environment
A massive online environmental campaign has forced one of the world's largest investment banks to back away from funding a controversial coal port expansion by the Great Barrier Reef.
Today, Deutsche Bank decided against funding the Abbot Point coal port expansion on the East Coast of Australia. Were the expansion to take place, three million cubic metres of dredge spoil would be dumped inside the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and port would become one of the biggest coal terminals in the world.
Deutsche Bank Co-Chair Juergen Fitschen said As there is clearly no consensus between the Australian Government and the UNESCO, regarding the impacts of the Abbot Point expansion on the Reef, we will not consider financial applications for an expansion of Abbot Point.
Head of Deutsche Bank's Supervisory Board, Paul Achleitner asserted, We are currently not involved with this project and will also not be involved with it in the future.
Sam McLean, National Director of the Australian activist online group, GetUp, believes the Deutsche Bank's decision is the result of a campaign run by GetUp members. In an email sent to supporters, he wroteThis has been an incredible effort spanning multiple countries, numerous organisations and hundreds of thousands of people from all around the world... It all started on Monday, just days before Deutsche Bank's AGM, when we knew investors across the world were watching closely. GetUp members mobilised with a huge last-minute fundraising effort to run a full page colour ad in the biggest financial newspaper in Europe. We only had 24 hours, but more than 4,270 GetUp members, and thousands more from Germany, chipped-in to make sure it happened.
The advertisement provoked international media coverage, then GetUp members subjected the Deutsche Bank with an avalanche of emails, blasted their Facebook page and bombarded Twitter. Now the GetUp team is pushing for the Australian banks, Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, Westpac and NAB to follow the Deutsche Bank's lead.
To date, the recent Australian government decision to approve the coal port expansion has prompted much vociferous opposition, particularly in the light of numerous reports, including those compiled by Australian government bodies, revealing the Great Barrier Reef is already at considerable risk.
Accordingly a test court case challenge was initiated earlier this year, funded by USD $277200 collected by GetUp from Australian and international donors.
Plus the usually decorous local Environmental Defenders Office NQ has launched a bold public campaign with the ultimate objective of bestowing a legal personality on the reef. Robyn Lawley, a New York-based plus-size supermodel model, has been appointed as the face of this larger-than-life campaign.
The campaign’s first goal is to compel an Australia-wide, non-binding referendum, and if successful, the reef will gain far greater legal protections. For starters, it will be treated as a "person" with its very own legal standing, and trustees can be appointed to take care of the reef and act on its behalf.
The assignation of legal personalities to ecological entities is gaining ever greater currency across the globe. For example, the New Zealand government bestowed the Whanganui River with a legal identity in August 2012. And in 2007, the rights of nature to "exist, persist, maintain itself and regenerate" was written into the Ecuadorian Constitution, and in 2010, Bolivia legally recognised the rights of Mother Earth.
Australia has yet to do the same.
More about Deutsche bank, Great barrier reef, environmental protest, getup, test court case
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