“If you’ve never attended a Canadian history class, here is the short version: European settlers spent their first years in this part of the continent hunting beavers en masse in order to turn their pelts into fancy hats. Founded through the fur trade, the Hudson’s Bay company operated as the de facto government in large portions of what is now Canada for nearly 200 years between 1670-1869. Private enterprises like these, with backing from the French and then the British governments, claimed larger and larger swathes of the continent to claim more and more fur, lumber, and ore, often directly stealing from and overpowering Indigenous trading systems that had been sustainably in place for thousands of years. Eventually they spread their land grab all the way to the Pacific Ocean and the northern coastlines in pursuit of gold, silver, iron, copper, nickel, and diamond reserves. The eventual formation of Canada as “Canada” came about in the late 1800s for nakedly economic reasons, primarily to benefit the companies and conglomerates that were trading Canadian natural resources with the British, but also to facilitate railroad construction (using slave labor) in which civic leaders had investments.”
So, when I read Protect Our Winter’s latest campaign letter, I wasn’t surprised, even though I was, because I keep buying the programming that being Canadian means being nice, polite and civilised. I keep having to wake up to this “front”, this convenient fabrication.
OF COURSE one of the most steady profitable industries that Canada currently has – the banking sector – is neck deep in cahoots with the only other steady profitable industry that Canada has thrown itself in with – the oil and gas sector. Of course. I’ve always thought money was a bit dirty, but this takes it to the next level.
Okay. It’s hot. We already know from the Scotiabank town hall debacle that the bankers are kinda the opposite of community-minded people, no matter how many years of little grants they gave away to try and convince us otherwise. So, I’ll leave it to the cooler heads at POW to explain more.
In fact, since Canada signed the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016, Canadian banks have given $798 billion to oil, gas and coal projects. And if you have an account with them, they’re using your money to do it. Today, POW is standing up to the big banks to say, enough is enough. It’s time to stop banking climate destruction. Let’s #BankOnNature instead.
CANADA’S BIG 5 BANKS ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST FOSSIL FUEL FINANCERS IN THE WORLD.
What’s more, banks aren’t just funding existing projects. They’re providing financing and guarantees that allow expansion of fossil fuel operations that put Canada’s wild spaces at risk, contravene indigenous rights and make an outsize contribution to global heating.
You don’t have to have thousands of dollars in savings to be affected. If you’ve got money in an everyday chequing account – the money you use to buy your groceries or your season’s pass – then you can be sure the banks are using it to support fossil fuel projects.
Scroll down to check out how your bank stacks up when it comes to funding global oil, gas and coal projects, and join us as we call on the banks to stop banking on climate change, and #BankOnNature instead.
Fossil Fuel Financing By Bank, 2016-2020
Since the Paris Climate Accord was signed, Canadian banks have given over $500 billion to the fossil fuel industry. Here’s the kicker: oil and gas companies don’t really need financing for existing operations. Most of that money is guaranteeing new projects and expansion, pumping more and more carbon into our atmosphere and bulldozing more of our fragile natural spaces.
Every single one of Canada’s ‘Big 5’ banks are in the top 25 financers of fossil fuels in the world. The banks talk a big game when it comes to addressing climate change, but the reality is that they have NO measurable plans when it comes to getting out of industries that not only destroy our natural spaces and climate, but are bad for shareholders too.
You might be surprised to learn that your bank is using your money to fund its fossil fuel clients. Banks draw on the money that their customers have on deposit, whether that’s your RRSP account or the account your pay cheque goes into each week, and loan that money to corporate clients for big returns. Of course it gets more complicated than that, but essentially, if you have an account with a Big 5 bank, you can be confident that some of your money is funding climate change.
We’re asking banks to start planning to divest from fossil fuels. We want to see funds diverted from climate-destroying projects, and invested in clients and activities that are sustainable in the long term and support the viability of the natural spaces we depend on.
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO?
Thanks for emailing your bank’s CEO! One snowflake might not make a lot of difference, but we all know that many snowflakes make an avalanche.
There’s one more thing you can do to really let the banks know that we’re serious about divestment. We’d love you to call your local branch manager and let them know that you’re unhappy with your bank’s record on climate change.
We’re asking POW members to give their banks one year to commit to divestment, and then move their funds to an institution that doesn’t bank fossil fuel projects.
Switching financial institutions is easier than you think, and credit unions can be a great option if, like us, you want to bank on nature.