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.