Financial reporter Shawn McCarthy spent many years at the Globe and Mail, and has recently moved to Corporate Knights to cover sustainability issues. His recent article highlights how investor and public pressure is growing on banks – especially RBC – to deliver on vague net zero promises by drawing the line at financing further fossil fuel expansion.

Under the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero forged for COP26, the banks have committed to not only decarbonize their portfolios but to adopt a transparent and rigorous short-term strategy that ensures they meet that 2050 target. The alliance, led by former Bank of England governor Mark Carney, comprises separate agreements for various financial sectors.

The banking agreement includes many of the largest financial players in North America, including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup Inc., Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto-Dominion Bank.

The article highlights investor groups who are also building up pressure to make clear short term financed emission reduction targets:

Civil society research groups in the United States and Canada are determined to hold the industry’s collective feet to the fire. On December 16, Investors for Paris Compliance, a Canadian advocacy organization, released a “best practices” report that aims to guide not only banks but their shareholders, who are increasingly challenging business-as-usual practices at annual meetings.

The report calls on banks to put in place policies that will allow them to cut the carbon emissions of companies they finance by half by 2030, and to immediately end financing for new fossil fuel projects. The banks should adopt science-based targets for 2030 – aligned with the goal of limiting the average global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels – and tying compensation to progress on meeting the climate goals.

The report notes that the world is already seeing enormous costs from extreme weather events related to climate change, most recently with the catastrophic flooding in British Columbia and the searing heat and drought experienced throughout western North America last summer.

Read the full article at the Corporate Knights website.

The news that RBC is Canada’s #1 climate-killing financial institution is catching on across the country. This week a man in Orillia, Ontario, part of the local XR GTA chapter, brought a message about extinction right to his local RBC branch:

A man who goes by Xavier Bergeron, an alias used to protect his identity, says he, accompanied by a photographer and videographer, was protesting RBC Royal Bank’s involvement with the fossil fuel industry.

“We went inside the bank, we were asked to leave, but I told the manager I refuse. She threatened us to call the police and I told her to go ahead, we will be outside waiting,” Bergeron told OrilliaMatters.

Bergeron, 54, says the protest was peaceful and the protesters were following all COVID protocols.

“While waiting for the police, I chained myself to the front door to make a point and resist arrest, as well as showing how I feel about the financial institution’s financing of ecological breakdowns,” he said.

“We all know that fossil fuel is bad, and the science is undeniable now. Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are getting dangerously close to the tipping point where we will no longer be able to grow crops,” he said.

“It’s going to trigger sea level rises which will cause a billion people to be on the move,” he said.

Check out the full story in the Orillia Matters newspaper.