Canada’s largest bank may have been caught off guard by the sudden onslaught of pressure from customers across the country this year, demanding that it abide by its commitments to climate action and social justice.
Despite its great public statements climate leadership and commitments to support projects that respect indigenous rights, RBC has made headlines for investing billions of dollars in fossil fuels. It’s not well known, but RBC is now funding pipelines with massive indigenous-led opposition, including the Coastal GasLink project in the Wet’suwet’en and Line 3 territories south of the border.
Customers across Canada are beginning to challenge RBC’s greenwash. During the first half of 2021, RBC has been the target of a coast-to-coast public pressure campaign, with customers, shareholders and employees calling on Canada’s “worst fossil bank” to stop financing fossil fuels.
In April, more than 75,000 people signed a joint petition from advocacy groups. Guide now, Stand.earth, SumOfUs, Green Peace Y North99 calling on RBC to urgently phase out investments in fossil fuels and stop funding projects that violate indigenous rights immediately.
At the bank’s 2021 annual general meeting, an RBC shareholder presented the signed petition in support of a proposal to significantly reduce its financed emissions. The lawsuits resulted in a historic shareholder vote of 32 percent in favor of the climate proposal.
Then at the inauguration Annual General Meeting of the Town, convened by Leadnow and attended by hundreds of RBC customers and shareholders, participants learned about the true impacts of fossil fuel financing behind the scenes of the bank. At the meeting, participants voted to launch a summer campaign at RBC branches across the country to educate customers and employees about their role in financing the climate crisis.
Already, more than 300 volunteers have signed up to “adopt a branch”. On June 8, organizers covered the sidewalks outside more than 70 RBC branches with beautiful chalk drawings depicting a livable and climate-safe future, and encouraged RBC to be a part of it.
These actions aim to raise awareness among RBC employees and clients, at their workplace or local branch, about the bank’s ongoing contribution to fueling the climate crisis, and mobilize them to take action. At least 40 branches have been “adopted” across Canada, and hundreds of people are organizing “get-togethers and giveaways”, handouts and meetings with their branch managers.
Until now, RBC has been silent. But inaction is risky, as the threat of damaging your brand and losing customers continues to grow.
It’s very clear that big banks like RBC are lagging behind on climate action, when even fossil fuel companies are starting to move away from oil and gas.
On May 26, it was considered “Black wednesday“For the oil companies, the courts and boardrooms issued clear orders to the fossil giants Shell, ExxonMobil and Chevron to act urgently on climate change.
It’s very clear that big banks like RBC are falling behind on climate action, when even fossil fuel companies are starting to move away from oil and gas, writes @cherrytsoi. #DivestRBC #RBCRevealed
TO Dutch court order Shell will cut emissions by 45 percent over the next 10 years, forcing the company to cut at least one million barrels of oil and gas from production every day. Exxon shareholders kicked out two pro-oil Board members and replaced them with candidates for a green and just transition. And in Chevron, change 60 percent of investors voted to pass a resolution that requires the company to reduce its carbon emissions.
Even the world’s most influential energy modeling organization, the International Energy Agency, decreed that there are “no need to invest in a new supply of fossil fuels, ”Backing the long-standing alarm by climate advocates and indigenous leaders around the world to end funding for fossil fuels.
These recent victories for the climate movement stem from years of community organizing. Indigenous and frontline communities, university divestment activists, grassroots climate justice groups, scientists, and advocacy organizations have tirelessly fought for a just and green transition away from fossil fuels. Now the movement is widespread. From the boardroom to the break room, we are infiltrating the ranks of our opponents.
If there is a lesson here, it is that the climate movement pays off when we focus our efforts. And in Canada, opposition to fossil fuels led by indigenous land advocates, youth, customers and shareholders is turning their attention to the largest bank: RBC.
As record heat waves and extreme wildfires erupt in western Canada, claiming more than 700 lives and burning communities, it is time for the world’s largest financial institutions to stop financing fossil fuels and exacerbate the crisis. climatic.
The tide is turning in the oil and gas industry. RBC faces a choice: step forward to be a true leader in the transition to a green future or sink into a past powered by fossil fuels. Any delay in action will damage the image of responsible banking that RBC has worked so hard to build and risks losing thousands of once loyal customers.
Cherry Tsoi is a strategist and digital communicator focused on climate justice campaigns. He has led and won campaigns on a variety of environmental and social issues, most recently at the independent citizen advocacy organization Leadnow.