The protests, part of a nationwide effort dubbed Fossil Fools Day, allowed protestors to voice their opposition to the Royal Bank of Canada’s funding of fossil fuel projects.
In over 40 locations across the country, including Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Halifax, and Vancouver, the message was the same – Banks need to stop funding fossil fuel projects, reports CTV News Canada.
The protests were also meant to raise awareness of the bank’s looming Annual General Meeting, scheduled to take place in Saskatoon on April 5.
Eve Saint, a Wet’suwet’en land defender and daughter of hereditary Chief Woos who spoke at the Toronto protest, said a Wet’suwet’en delegation is heading to the AGM intent on getting answers from RBC president and CEO Dave McKay.
“We are going down a very scary path,” Saint said in an interview following her remarks at Saturday’s protest, citing extreme weather events such as flooding and fires as examples of the effects of the climate crisis.
RBC has long stressed the importance of an orderly transition to net-zero financed emissions, previously announcing it hoped to reach that goal in 2050 and setting a smaller, interim target for 2030.
Next week, Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs will be asking assembled shareholders to support a resolution related to respecting Indigenous rights.The resolution put forth by the B.C. General Employees’ Union with the support of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, is just one of many that Canada’s big banks face as climate activists increasingly look to shareholder proposals to shift corporate policy, reports Kitchner City News.
“They’re a really important tool for investors to catalyze change,” said Catherine McCall, executive director of the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance, which represents the interests of institutional investors.
“They can introduce issues to management and the board that are important, and they can signal how important they are to investors.”
RBC spokesperson Jeff Lanthier said the company is focusing its attention on where it will have the biggest impact, with the aim of helping clients reduce their emissions.
“We are committed to achieving net-zero in our lending by 2050 and have established interim emissions reduction targets that will help us drive action and measure progress,” he said in an email. “These targets are informed by science and reflect a measured and deliberate approach to climate action.”
With than being said, critics are still saying RBC’s stated goals are falling far short of what’s needed, accusing the company of “greenwashing” last fall when it announced its goals for this decade.
While RBC’s financing of fossil fuel projects overall has been the subject of much criticism, one of the core issues is the bank’s funding of the Coastal GasLink.Pipeline.
The Coastal GasLink pipeline is a TC Energy natural gas pipeline under construction in British Columbia, Canada. Starting in Dawson Creek, the pipeline runs approximately 670 kilometers (420 miles) in a route that crosses through the Canadian Rockies and other mountain ranges to Kitimat, where the gas will be exported to Asian customers.
In August 2020, construction of the pipeline started. By the end of July 2022 it was announced that approximately 70 percent of the pipeline had been completed and the cost of the project had increased from an initial target of CA$6.6 billion to CA$11.2 billion.
RBC has also funded the Trans Mountain pipeline, the estimated costs of which have ballooned recently to $30.9 billion.