Police removed a group of people of faith from Muslim, Christian and Buddhist backgrounds on Wednesday 5 April while peacefully praying and meditating in the lobby of the National Australia Bank’s headquarters in Sydney while calling on the bank stop funding fossil fuel projects.

The group was urging NAB’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ross McEwan, to publicly rule out finance for coal, starting with Whitehaven Coal as the company is seeking a renewal of NAB’s $110 million debt facility by the middle of the year.

Protestors quietly refused requests to leave by NAB management and police were called. Thirteen police arrived at the site and removed the protestors.

Ms Fahimah Badrulhisham, a Muslim architect who was part of the pray-in congregation said, “I am currently observing Ramadan, a month where Muslims fast during the day to cleanse our body, mind and spirit.”

“It is also the month where we remember and help the less fortunate, and level up our efforts in seeking justice. Which is why today, in this holy month, I am standing with Pacific Islanders, young people and climate-vulnerable communities of the Global South by taking a stand against NAB,” she said.

Ms Badrulhisham further added, “The bank continues to expand the coal industry while selling the public an image of a community focussed, climate-friendly bank.”

Rev Dr Chris Walker, a retired Uniting Church Minister said, “My concern about climate change arises from my Christian faith in God the Creator who calls us to care for and appreciate creation.”

“It is imperative that action be taken now before it is too late to prevent serious climate warming and the devastating effects that it is already bringing,”  he further added.

Many supporters also gathered outside the bank in meditation to support those gathered inside.

Photo credit: David Curzon

Background

Peaceful protests against NAB have been going across the country for the past 9 days. They were demanding NAB stop funding climate wrecking coal mines in response to the release of the latest IPCC AR6 Synthesis Report.

The report prompted the Secretary-General of the UN to call on the world to “do everything, everywhere, all at once” to pull back from the brink of irreversible climate damage.

NAB has loaned hundreds of millions of dollars to Whitehaven Coal including a loan of $110 million in 2020. Since January 2016, NAB has loaned $9.5 billion to fossil fuel intensive industries.

However, NAB has a goal to align with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. The International Energy Agency has said that, to ensure global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees, there can be no new fossil fuel extraction projects.