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article imageFunding fossil fuels is 'cash cow' for Canada's major banks

By Karen Graham     Mar 28, 2019 in Environment
A new report published this week shows that 33 global banks provided $1.9 trillion to fossil fuel companies since the adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement at the end of 2015. Five of Canada's major banks have funded $454 billion of that amount.
Released on Wednesday, Banking on Climate Change 2019, is the tenth annual fossil fuel report card and the first-ever analysis of funding from 33 of the world’s major private banks for the fossil fuel sector as a whole.
The report was released by Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, Sierra Club, and Honor the Earth, and was endorsed by over 160 organizations around the world.
And as The Tyee is reporting, Canada's big five banks have funded a staggering $454 billion worth of fossil fuel projects, with RBC leading the pack. This amount includes $160 billion for the expansion of new fossil fuel projects in both Canada and around the world.
Funding by five major Canadian banks
Funding by five major Canadian banks
Banking on Climate Change
And speaking of funding the expansion of fossil fuels, the report found that of the $1.9 trillion total paid by the 33 banks, $600 billion went to 100 companies that are most aggressively expanding fossil fuels - highlighting the "business-as-usual" attitude that flys in the face of the latest scientific warnings on climate change.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently warned that “Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”
The 782-page report describes what will happen if we do nothing - and at the same time - tells us that if we just try to keep the warming where it is now, perhaps, just perhaps, we can keep some semblance of the ecosystems we have.
With scientists telling us we have 12 years to wake up and do something constructive in mitigating global warming, the question The Tyee asks is why are some banks pushing in the opposite direction by financing fossil fuel expansion?
Four U.S. banks - US banks — JPMorgan Chase  Wells Fargo  Citi  and Bank of America top the list i...
Four U.S. banks - US banks — JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Bank of America top the list in fossil fuel funding.
Banking on Climate Change.
Alison Kirsch, Climate and Energy Lead Researcher at Rainforest Action Network says the situation is worse than alarming, reports Clean Technica. “The massive scale at which global banks continue to pump billions of dollars into fossil fuels is flatly incompatible with a livable future. It’s an insult to logic, to science and to humanity that since the groundbreaking Paris Climate Agreement, financing for fossil fuels continues to rise."
And all of us with any sense of responsibility toward the future of the planet and the generations that will come after we are gone should feel the same outrage. And we should not single out the five Canadian banks at fault in the report, either. The four biggest global bankers of the fossil fuel energy sector are all US banks — JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Bank of America.
Banks are making a lot of money off of funding fossil fuels and these investments are the epitome of the mother of all cash cows for bankers, and just like people did with boycotting Wells Fargo Bank here in the U.S. because they were funding a pipeline, people of good conscience should think about doing the same with the big banks today.
There are alternatives to using banks. Think about credit unions, non-bank mortgage brokers, and RRSP-eligible investments that screen out fossil fuels. Matt Price, writing for The Tyee, writes: "Win or lose on climate, business as usual is over. We either rapidly leave fossil fuels behind or we face social and economic upheaval unlike we’ve ever seen."
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