October 26, 2022 – Indigenous-led and environmental groups slammed today’s RBC 2030 climate targets as a “sham” that fails to meet government or science-aligned targets. The bank is currently under investigation by the Competition Bureau for allegedly misleading communities over its climate plans through advertising, or ‘greenwashing.’

A comparison to released plans by Canada’s other major banks shows RBC’s plan is less ambitious, falls well short of what’s needed for action on the climate crisis from Canada’s largest financier of fossil fuels and demonstrates a continued pattern of greenwashing by the bank.

Unlike RBC’s competitor Bank of Montreal (BMO), RBC continues to rely on carbon intensity targets instead of absolute emission reduction targets for energy sector clients, which can be achieved even if overall emissions increase. RBC continues to evoke climate leadership while refusing to address their reality as the fifth largest financier of fossil fuels globally. There remains no timeline provided to phase out financing to the expansion of coal, oil, gas and tar sands while they continue to double down on support for projects including TC Energy and the Coastal Gaslink pipeline which violate Indigenous rights.

Canadian banks’ climate targets
Oil and gas (Scope 1 & 2) Oil and gas (Scope 3)
UN Race to Zero criteria 50% reduction in absolute GHGs from financed, facilitated and insured activities by 2030. 50% reduction in absolute GHGs from financed, facilitated and insured activities by 2030.
RBC 35% reduction in emissions intensity (g CO2e/MJ) from financed operations by 2030 (relative to 2019). 11-27% reduction in emissions intensity (g CO2e/MJ) by 2030 (relative to 2019).
BMO 33% reduction in portfolio emissions intensity (tCO2e/TJ) from 2019 baseline by 2030. 24% in absolute scope 3 emissions from 2019 levels by 2030.
CIBC 35% reduction in emissions intensity (gCO2e/MJ) from 2020 levels by 2030. Includes carbon removal credits. 27% reduction in emissions intensity (gCO2e/MJ) from 2020 levels by 2030. Includes carbon removal credits.
Scotiabank 30% improvement in CO2e emissions intensity (tCO2e/TJ) from 2019 baseline by 2030. Scope 3 target won’t be set until 2023.
TD 29% reduction in emissions intensity (gCO2e/CAD $) for scopes 1-3 from 2019 baseline by 2030. Note: TD is the only bank to use an emissions/dollar metric. 29% reduction in emissions intensity (gCO2e/CAD $) for scopes 1-3 from 2019 baseline by 2030.
Source: Greenpeace Canada’s August 2022 Racing to Zero? report & RBC’s Net Zero Report (released today).

Representatives of Indigenous-led and environmental organizations, including signatories to a recent open letter to RBC CEO Dave McKay, provide the following reactions to today’s announcement and are available for interviews:

“RBC has been instrumental in the destruction of our lands by financing the Coastal Gaslink Pipeline, which is illegally now drilling into our pristine lands and threatening our waterways. While RBC claims it’s saving the planet, we’re here defending our yintah and Wedzin Kwa. Coastal GasLink would emit the equivalent of every car in so-called Canada. Today’s announcement does nothing to stop RBC’s financing of fossil fuel projects destroying Indigenous lands.” Chief Woos, Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief

“It’s hard to see RBC as a climate leader when they are funding the destruction of our homelands with pipelines that have been forced upon us without our Free Prior and Informed Consent.” Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Secretary-Treasurer of the UBCIC

“There’s a dictionary-official definition for RBC’s climate targets: it’s called greenwashing. With RBC continuing to bankroll polluters, these pledges are just more smoke and mirrors. While people across Canada bear the brunt of fires, floods, and deadly heat, Canada’s #1 fossil fuel-financing bank continues to pour gas on the flames, bankrolling gas, tar sands, oil, and coal. Instead of financing Indigenous rights-violating fracked gas pipelines, RBC has the opportunity to reinvest in climate-safe solutions and truly live into its climate rhetoric.” Richard Brooks, Stand.earth Climate Finance Program Director

“RBC is dragging its feet on climate while positioning itself as climate leaders and advocates for youth futures. The bank has poured hundreds of millions into student initiatives and ‘green tech innovation’ challenges to mask the harm they continue to cause by funding fossil fuel expansion. It’s disheartening to see them position themselves as advocates for young people and then do the bare minimum on climate action.” Evelyn Austin, a youth organiser with Banking on a Better Future 

“Families across Canada face an uncertain future and increasing impacts of climate chaos. Meanwhile, RBC continues to pour money into oil and gas projects that add to that crisis and violate Indigenous rights, instead of living up to its claim to support youth and a greener future. Kids need a safe, just, and liveable future. If RBC is committed to that, it can’t continue to support the fossil fuel industry.” Jennifer Roberge, Organizer with For Our Kids Montreal and complainant in the RBC Competition Bureau investigation

 

Quick facts:

  • RBC CEO Dave McKay was called on by 19 organisations supported by over 2 million people in a recent open letter, to commit to a credible pathway to achieving net-zero – a 50% absolute emissions reduction target covering all aspects of RBC’s business including scope 1, 2, and scope 3 emissions, which includes financed emissions, by 2030. This is consistent with the International Energy Agency’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario (NZE) based on a pathway towards limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C which requires ‘a huge decline in the use of fossil fuels.’ The letter further calls for leadership on climate and Indigenous rights including a timeline to phase out financing the expansion of coal, oil, gas, tar sands, and projects that violate Indigenous rights, and severing ties with TC Energy and Coastal GasLink.
  • RBC joined the Mark Carney-led Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net-Zero (GFANZ) in October 2021, promising to align the bank’s lending and investment portfolios with a science-based pathway to net zero by 2050. Membership in the now 500+-strong GFANZ was a condition to access COP26 negotiations in Glasgow, Scotland. Now, ahead of COP27, RBC and Canadian banks risk getting booted from the global network as they push back against the global financial sector setting standards for climate risk, revealing the bank’s playbook of delay and deceit on climate action.
  • Bank counterparts in Europe are consistently taking more leadership in responding to the climate crisis. Just last week, Deutsche Bank, French bank SocGen, and the UK’s Lloyds all released absolute emissions targets for oil and gas clients. Citibank, the world’s second largest fossil fuel financier, also set an absolute target for its energy sector clients of 29% by 2030. BBVA, a major Spanish bank, recently announced that it would no longer finance new projects related to oil and gas exploration, drilling and extraction. It is working with oil and gas clients in its credit portfolio with the aim to reduce their global carbon emissions by 30% by 2030 and aligning its exposure to the oil and gas sector in accordance with a 2050 net zero emissions target.
  • RBC competitor Bank of Montreal (BMO) is currently the only major Canadian bank to have set absolute emissions reduction targets for its energy sector clients — 24% by 2030, which is still below what is required to achieve net zero by 2050.
  • RBC’s goals also fail to meet the bar set by the Canadian government for emissions reductions by 2030 (e.g. a 42% reduction in absolute emissions from oil and gas by 2030).

 

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For more information: 

Kari Vierimaa

KPW Comms

416.578.0488

[email protected]

This past September, the Montreal Canadiens and RBC announced a multi-year partnership agreement that will feature the RBC logo on the players’ jerseys during their home games at the Bell Centre, starting this season. This partnership, along with the RBC logo on the team’s jerseys, is trashing “la Sainte-Flanelle” at a time when the public is increasingly critical of the greenwashing efforts of private companies, including banks.

RBC is Canada’s biggest fossil fuel bank, and the 5th largest fossil fuel funder in the world. Since 2016, RBC has provided $264 billion Canadian to the fossil fuel industry. In 2021, RBC increased its fossil fuel funding by C$23 billion, doubling its funding from the previous year.

The first match of the Montreal Canadiens is an opportunity to shed light on RBC’s deceptive tactics, and the real impact their investments in the fossil industry is already having on younger generations and frontline communities. Join us in denouncing RBC and their dirty investments.

The campaign to cross out the RBC logo has taken social media by storm, and was also covered in the media:

See more at this social sshare toolkit, or at the Greenpeace twitter.

 

RBC is now under investigation for alleged misleading advertising related to the bank’s commitments on climate action while continuing to finance fossil fuel development, Canada’s Competition Bureau has confirmed.

The Competition Bureau is a federal law enforcement agency that rules on matters related to competition including advertising. The investigation was triggered by a complaint filed last spring by 6 members of the public, many of whom are clients or shareholders of RBC and supported by Ecojustice.

The story has been widely covered, in Canada and around the world:

From the Yahoo! Finance story:

Ecojustice lawyer Matt Hulse says RBC’s ongoing dealings in the oil and gas industry are at odds with its stated climate strategy.

“RBC has claimed that it will achieve net-zero in its lending and investments by 2050 and will come out with targets and plans over the next two years,” he said in an emailed statement. “This commitment is undermined by RBC’s continued financing of fossil fuels and its failure to account for the bulk of emissions from the fossil fuel companies that it finances.”

According to Ecojustice, RBC’s financing of fossil fuel companies in 2021 topped $34.4 billion in loans and underwriting, and included $50.4 billion in investments. In October of that year, RBC became a member of the UN-backed Net-Zero Banking Alliance, a commitment to align lending and investment practices with achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

You can help by reading and sharing these posts from Ecojustice and Stand, as well as key media coverage above. You can find downloadable graphics and sample text for social media posts here: TOOLKIT

Below are shareable graphics you can also use.

 

Photo credit: Stella Racca, Instagram: @stella_by_starlight__

RBC CEO Dave McKay recently told the Toronto Star editorial board that RBC – the world’s 5th biggest funder of fossil fuels – was a climate leader. The article came out the very same week a massive drill began tunnelling under the headwaters of Wedzin Kwa on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory for the Coastal Gaslink fracked gas pipeline that RBC helps finance.

19 organizations supported by over two million people have responded with an open letter calling out RBC’s greenwashing and demanding real leadership on climate, which means phasing out financing for coal, oil, gas, and tar sands, respecting Indigenous rights, and cutting funding to projects that violate Indigenous rights.

Read the full letter in English or French here, or below.

Mr. McKay,

We are writing to you as organizations deeply concerned that RBC continues to be Canada’s top
funder of climate chaos – including projects that expand fossil fuels and violate Indigenous rights
– at a critical time for protecting biodiversity and of energy transition.

In your recent interview with the Toronto Star, you claim that RBC is a climate leader, while
attempting to shift the responsibility to the Federal Government and other CEOs. This claim
came the very same week a massive drill began tunnelling under the headwaters of Wedzin
Kwa on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory for the Coastal Gaslink fracked gas pipeline that RBC
helps finance.

Leadership on climate and Indigenous rights from the world’s fifth largest funder of fossil fuels
looks like providing a timeline to phase out financing the expansion of coal, oil, gas, tar sands,
and projects that violate Indigenous rights – RBC is instead increasing its investment in fossil
fuels. It also looks like severing ties with TC Energy and Coastal GasLink which threatens critical
ecosystems and waterways and does not have the consent of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

RBC needs to adopt financial policies that ensure the rights of Indigenous people are upheld,
affirmed, and respected including adhering to existing policies and practices that ensure the
Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of Indigenous peoples as defined in the United Nations
Declaration of The Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) under Article 32.

The International Energy Agency’s Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario (NZE), based on a
pathway consistent with limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 °C, requires ‘a huge decline
in the use of fossil fuels.’ The outlook states “beyond projects already committed as of 2021,
there are no new oil and gas fields approved for development, and no new coal mines or
mine extensions are required.’ A credible pathway to achieve net-zero, which RBC has publicly
committed to, would require a 50% absolute emissions reduction target covering all aspects of
your business including scope 1, 2 and scope 3 emissions which includes financed emissions
by 2030. This is the bar that RBC must meet.

We understand that RBC is poised to release new targets for reducing emissions across its
lending portfolio by 2030 in the coming weeks. We will be watching closely to see your timeline
for phasing out investments in fossil fuels, and hold you accountable if you do not.

 

 

After the Toronto Star ran a questionable editorial board interview featuring RBC CEO Dave McKay earlier this week, it was good to see a column that connected the dots between recent climate related disasters, record profits from oil and gas companies, and banks like RBC who continue to fund the endless expansion of fossil fuels that a climate safe world can no longer afford.

An excerpt from by Amir Barnea’s article:

Canada’s oil and gas industry is having a stellar year. Its best year ever, in fact. According to a report published last week by Pembina Institute, a non-partisan think tank focused on Canada’s clean energy transition, “Canadian oil and gas companies’ free cash flow is estimated to reach $152 billion in 2022. This is the highest level of profits the industry has ever seen.”

Those windfall profits could be used to get the oil companies to net-zero by 2050, a commitment made by the industry last year as part of the Pathways Alliance. Canadian oil and gas companies could invest in their own transition to renewable energy production as Europe’s largest oil companies, Shell, BP, and TotalEnergies, have done.

Instead, the industry is focused on delivering “short-term shareholder value” by paying dividends and executing massive share buyback programs (that help inflate their share prices), the Pembina report states.

While this is all unfortunate, none of it could have been possible without the co-operation of Canada’s big banks, the silent players who finance the climate crisis.

Since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, the Big Five banks (RBC, TD, Scotiabank, BMO, and CIBC) have invested $911 billion into coal, oil, gas, and tarsands. Even in the midst of a climate crisis, all of them increased their fossil fuel financing between 2020 and 2021.

It seems that for the banks — save for some long-term net-zero commitments — it’s mostly business as usual.

The article goes on to talk about recent efforts to rein in fossil fuel investments – and thus limit the climate risk in the Canadian financial system – via regulation.

Read the full article at the Toronto Star website.