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  • Writer's pictureThe Low Down

Put your money where your mouth is

Recently a group of people gathered at the Greenroom tea room in Wakefield to talk about ways to engage in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss. The event was hosted by La Pêche Coalition for a Green New Deal.


One place we could all start is with our bank accounts. Where we choose to put our money can have the greatest impact on our carbon footprint.


Canada’s five biggest banks are among the largest funders of fossil fuel projects in the world, with RBC topping the list. The five increased support for the industry by 70 per cent in 2021, despite acknowledging the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Their commitments to net zero by 2050 are vague, and none has yet set targets that would actually get them there.


In fact, your local big bank branch might as well have a smokestack on its roof. While banks are also investing in wind and solar, recklessly enabling the expansion of the fossil fuel empire will have hellish consequences for the planet.


According to the global environmental group, Stand. earth, “as RBC greenwashes its climate commitments and touts Indigenous reconciliation rhetoric, the bank is financing projects, from Alberta tar sands to the East African Crude Oil and TransMountain pipelines. (These) are carbon bombs set to trigger catastrophic climate breakdown while trampling Indigenous and local community rights.”


BANKS SAY NO


Under mounting public pressure, several large European banks say they will not finance any new oil and gas projects. The list includes Britain’s HSBC, France’s Crédit Agricole, and Denmark’s Danske. Let’s see if they live up to these promises.


In the U.S., four of the top banks are on notice to cease their planet-destroying practices. Third Act, a seniors’ activist group, will hit the streets in March to protest outside bank branches and sites of climate devastation caused by fires, hurricanes, and floods. Protesters will collectively cut up their bank and credit cards and pledge to shift their money to greener financial institutions.


Many of those attending the Climate Café in Wakefield are also seniors. Seniors hold a vast amount of wealth in financial institutions; they are more likely to vote than younger people; they are deeply concerned for the welfare of future generations; and they support the young on the frontlines of the climate fight.


Some action ideas:

Ask your bank or credit union about its fossil fuel investments;

Read “Where Should Climate-Concerned Canadians Bank?” at nationalobserver.com;

Sign the petition protesting RBC’s fossil fuel financing at Stand.earth.ca;

Sign the petition calling on Canada’s export bank, EDC, to stop bankrolling the industry at takeaction.amnesty.ca;

Write the CEOs of the biggest banks: RBC, BMO, CIBC, TD, Scotia Bank (names and addresses online).


Paula Halpin is a resident of Masham.

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