Montreal / Toronto / Vancouver — Thousands of Canadians across the country are today protesting Canada’s largest bank, RBC, which refuses to stop financing fossil fuels. RBC has invested more than $200 billion in fossil fuel projects since the Paris Climate Agreement was signed. These include projects that violate Indigenous rights, like the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

With COP26 focused heavily on the role of finance in the climate crisis, protests are also taking place today at banks across the UK, US, and Europe, with Greta Thunberg attending a protest at Standard Chartered Bank in London. Actions are expected across Africa, South America, Australia, and Europe. Images and news of the day are available here.

“It’s time for Canada’s biggest bank and largest fossil fuel financier to stop the greenwashing and start helping our country meet its climate goals and attempts at reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. That means ending financing of rights violating coal, oil and gas companies and scaling up investments in real climate solutions,” said Richard Brooks, Climate Finance Director with Stand.earth.

On Wet’suwet’en Territory, Indigenous leaders from Gidimt’en Checkpoint are protesting at the drill site under the WedzinKwa River. In Toronto, participants are blocking Wellington Street in the heart of the financial district. In Montreal, groups are rallying in front of RBC’s offices. Protests are also happening in Vancouver, Ottawa, and more than 30 other locations.

“Coastal Gaslink criminalizes and arrests chief Dsta’hyl of the Likhtsamisyu clan and a young Gixtsan chief for being on their territory, and refuses them access to their lands,” explains Eve Saint of the Wet’suwet’en nation. “How can RBC fund this project while pretending to work towards reconciliation?”

In Canada, the focus on RBC is due to its exceptionally high financing of fossil fuels compared to other banks, as well as its hypocrisy in funding projects on unceded Indigenous territory such as the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline. RBC has poured $208 billion into fossil fuels since the Paris accords and is a major lender to the CGL pipeline, which Wet’suwet’en Land Defenders are resisting. RBC has publicly lauded itself on its inclusive approach with Indigenous communities built on “mutual respect and shared values.” But, if built, the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline RBC funds would expedite the construction of subsequent bitumen and fracked gas pipelines, and create incentive for gas companies to tap into shale deposits along the pipeline right of way.

Organizing groups include Greenpeace, Climate Pledge Collective, Gidimt’en Land Defenders, Banking on a Better Future, Leadnow, Stand.Earth, Extinction Rebellion Quebec, Quit RBC, CEVES, Divest McGill, Climate Justice UBC.

For images and for more information, please contact:

Laura Bergamo, Communications Officer, Greenpeace Canada (Eastern Time)
+1 438-928-5237; [email protected]

Ziona Eyob, Media Director – Canada, Stand.earth (Pacific Time)
+1 604 757 7279; [email protected]

Local organizers:
Wet’suwet’en Territory: Eve Saint (647) 569-9962
Toronto: Sabrina Bowman, [email protected]
Vancouver: Arshia Uppal, [email protected]
Montréal: Laura Bergamo, 1 438-928-5237

 

The #DefundClimateChaos day of action is this Friday, 29th of October is just days away.

Thousands of people are set to take part in actions spanning 26 countries and every continent on the planet, which is what’s needed to demand  the global financial system stop the flow of money to fossil fuels before the UN climate summit in Glasgow starts. Major actions will take place at  global financial centres in London, New York, Frankfurt, Toronto, Sydney as well as other locations from Manila to San Francisco, São Paulo to Nairobi, the South Pacific and across Europe.

Although our targets are some of the biggest financial companies in the world, we are mighty and together they won’t be able to silence us.

Canadians can join one of 44 events (there’s still time to start your own) happening at RBC branches across the country. See the action map here.

More on the RBC Day of action:

Behind all their slick greenwashing, Canada’s largest bank, RBC, is the country’s biggest bankroller of fossil fuels. They’ve poured over $200 billion into the fossil fuel industry since 2016—including towards projects that violate Indigenous sovereignty—all while flaunting their so-called environmental and human rights commitments.

Big banks like RBC have massive corporate budgets to pay for expensive PR schemes so they can evade accountability for financing climate chaos. But their smoke and mirrors jig is up.

This Friday October 29, people across Canada are rising up from coast to coast in a coordinated day of action against RBC. Together, we’re gathering at our local RBC branches to call out RBC’s destructive investments and send RBC a clear message: stop funding climate destruction and the trampling of Indigenous rights.

RBC is already feeling the pressure. Yesterday, CEO Dave McKay penned an article going on the defensive about holding up the fossil fuel industry—so we know they’re nervous. [3] If they’re confronted by a flood of pressure from people all across the country, they’ll worry their business as usual approach is going to cost them their reputation.

It could help convince RBC to actually walk the talk of real climate action. But to do that, we need your help. Will you join your local RBC event on October 29? We’ve created an easy-to-use map tool to find your event: just enter in your postcode and it’ll point you to the closest one!

I’M IN

RBC’s massive investments in the fossil fuel industry don’t just mean they’re funding climate destruction. It also means they’re supporting projects that trample on Indigenous rights. RBC is a backer of the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline—a project that is proceeding without the consent of the Wet’suwet’en people and threatens the land, waters, and forests of their territory.

The good news? Our pressure is working. Just this summer, Leadnow members ran a cross-country campaign at our local RBC branches to raise the alarm about the bank’s destructive fossil fuel financing. In response, senior RBC managers released new company lines to try to deflect concerns coming from their staff and the public. They’re going on the defensive, so we know that they’re aware and paying attention to our work.

It’s up to us to keep the pressure up.

 

Readers of the Globe and Mail didn’t fall for the bait and switch editorial by Dave McKay last week. The CEO of RBC, Canada’s largest funder of climate chaos, had the gall to pen an article about what other industries should do to help the climate, but made no mention about RBC’s own role backing fossil fuels.

Readers were having none of it. Here was one letter to the editor:

Royal Bank of Canada’s president and chief executive officer Dave McKay writes that we are not tackling climate change fast enough. Indeed. But why does Mr. McKay make no mention that RBC, as part of a larger group of banks, recently invested $1.5-billion in Enbridge, the energy company behind the highly contested Line 5 pipeline?

The International Energy Agency’s latest report plainly states that there is “no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply” in a net-zero 2050 pathway. If RBC were truly in step with tackling the climate emergency, then it would heed the IEA’s advice and come clean on its investments.

Stephen Douglas Toronto

This letter, from student striker and Banking on a Better Future coordinator Evelyn Austin was also submitted:

Dave McKay’s recent climate advice column: “Canada needs a new playbook on climate” was thick with irony, given he is CEO of Canada’s largest financial backer of fossil fuels, RBC.

The IEA and UN have made clear that in order to reach net zero by 2050, fossil fuels must remain in the ground, starting now. Yet RBC’s net zero plan makes no mention of ending financing for fossil fuel extraction, which has made RBC the world’s 5th biggest funder of fossil fuels..

Next Friday, October 29th, actions will be held at dozens of RBC branches across the country and at fossil banks around the world. RBC has no credibility as a climate leader as long as it continues to profit from making climate chaos worse.

Evelyn Austin, Toronto

And a last one published from BC, on Mark Carney’s signing up of RBC and Canada’s other fossil banks to the Net Zero Banking Alliance:

The Net-Zero Banking Alliance? I’ll believe it when I see it.

What my 17-year-old quickly pointed out is how will these banks be held accountable for their “commitment” to shift lending practices away from those that generate greenhouse gas emissions? Indeed, they made no explicit commitment. No enforcement, no penalty – just talk.

What is the point of such an alliance? To make themselves look good, it seems, just another round of corporate greenwashing.

Michelle Sheardown Director, Drawdown BC; North Vancouver

Good on these sharp eyed readers for catching the greenwash!

The news today that Canada’s biggest banks have finally joined Mark Carney’s “Net Zero” banking alliance was met with a giant ho-hum by climate campaigners.

It was eerily similar to last Friday’s announcement, when JP Morgan Chase – the world’s #1 backer of fossil fuels and long time target of the climate movement – also joined the alliance. Chase, like RBC and the other big Canadian banks, continues to invest billions in new fossil fuel projects, and has offered no timelines or targets for reducing its climate harming investments.

Keith Stewart, senior energy campaigner at Greenpeace Canada, said:

“The world is accelerating toward a zero-carbon economy and Canadian banks are still playing catch up. Until they commit to a near-term phasing out of all financial support for fossil fuels and to fully respect Indigenous rights, they will still be part of the problem.”

Canada’s big five banks are all on the list of the top 25 largest funders of fossil fuels on Earth. RBC is Canada’s biggest, and the 5th biggest funder of fossil fuels in the world, having financed over $200B in coal, oil and gas since the Paris Climate Agreement was signed.

As the International Energy Agency just re-iterated again this week, there is no way we can keep global temperatures to a safe 1.5 degrees C and keep developing new coal, oil, and gas projects.

In a joint letter to Mark Carney last week signed by over 90 Canadian and global NGO’s, climate groups laid out what we expect from financial institutions who take their role in the climate emergency seriously:

  • Immediately present fossil fuel financing reduction targets and implementation plans covering all of their financial services with a goal of halving financed emissions by 2030;
  • Integrate the findings of the IEA Net Zero scenario into their climate strategies, including a prohibition on the financing of new fossil fuel projects as well as new corporate level financing of companies expanding fossil fuel production and transportation;
  • Immediately phase out all financing of thermal coal companies including utilities without short term plans to shutter thermal coal power and make a plan to phase out financing of oil and gas; and
  • Ensure the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous communities and commit to protect and restore biodiversity in all financing activities

 

Today’s announcement is nothing more than a green PR stunt, and proves again how embarrassingly low and largely meaningless Mark Carney’s entry requirements are for GFANZ. With the critical UN climate summit in Glasgow only two weeks away, at this critical moment in history, Carney and the world’s financial institutions must do better.

For a more detailed critique of GFANZ, see the letter and newspaper ads climate groups sent to Mark Carney last week.

A huge win today for the climate! French bank La Banque Postale announced it is stopping all financing to the oil and gas sectors by 2030. And they’re immediately stopping all current finance going to potential oil and gas development.

While many major banks are releasing their policies on financing oil and gas ahead of COP26, very few of their plans are enough to meet what is required to avoid further escalation of climate disaster. All except La Banque Postale. They are now one of the first major institutions to commit to the change required to keep the world under 1.5°C of warming.

Campaigners at Reclaim Finance and Friends of the Earth France said:

“If all banks were to copy and paste La Banque Postale’s policy, the climate would be largely spared,”

It’s so inspiring to see a major financial institution listening to the science and listening to the mountains of pressure from campaigners. With this move, they’re putting thousands of other financial institutions under pressure to do the right thing and stop funding fossil fuel projects.

In addition to respecting Indigenous rights, this is what Canadian banks like RBC need to do.

More info on Reuters story.

As the UN’s special envoy for climate finance, Canadian Mark Carney is one the most prominent leaders in the still new world of climate finance. But groups who work directly on stopping climate chaos are concerned his well intentioned efforts are being used to greenwash business as usual by the world’s biggest banks and financial institutions.

Today our network, led by Stand and Greenpeace in Canada, joined by high profile international NGO’s and signed by over 90 other global climate groups, published full page ads in the Toronto Star and Financial Times (London), calling out Carney’s problematic behaviour.

Former director of Climate Action Network Canada Catherine Abreau also wrote an opinion article for the National Observer, where she highlighted the core hypocrisy of Carney’s work:

Carney’s main role at the UN is organizing large global banks, investors, and other financial institutions to join the new Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, also known as GFANZ.

GFANZ and its sub-groups have quickly signed up many of the world’s biggest financial institutions, which have, in turn, pledged to become “net zero” by 2050.

Yet many of the financial institutions, such as Citi, HSBC, and MUFG, that have signed onto GFANZ remain among the world’s top backers of fossil fuels, and the majority of signatories have submitted no detailed plans to reduce their fossil fuel investments.

If that sounds like a lot of greenwash, that’s because it is. Banks always talk about their new green finance contribution and conveniently fail to mention their ongoing dirty financing. Many GFANZ members have continued to invest more money in expanding fossil fuel production, even since signing onto the alliance. As another embarrassing example, Citi, Commerzbank, and Bank of America — all GFANZ members — are helping Russian coal giant SUEK expand its coal mining and power business.

The letter was covered extensively in the Canadian (here) and UK media (here).

See the ad on the Stand website or below.