A group of protesters gathered in front of the RBC branch on Trunk Road in Duncan on Oct. 29 to protest the bank’s investments in the fossil fuel industry.
David Slade, a member of For Socially Responsible Investing Cowichan, said that with more than $208 billion invested in the industry since 2016, RBC is Canada’s largest funder of climate chaos.
“RBC, which is Canada’s biggest bank, is leading the charge in Canada towards the sixth great extinction that will be caused by climate change and greenhouse gases,” he said.
“We’re here to try and inspire change among RBC’s management, employees and customers and get them to divert away from fossil fuels and the industry. If we can get RBC to change its ways, we hope the other banks will follow.”
Slade said similar protests were held across Canada at RBC branches on Oct. 29, the eve of the UN climate change conference, to protest RBC’s financing of the fossil fuel industry
He said the national day of action is in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Nation which is targeting RBC for investing in fossil-fuel projects such as Coastal GasLink, a fracked gas pipeline that cuts directly across Wet’suwet’en traditional territories near Burns Lake in B.C.’s interior.
“RBC must align its actions with its words and with the demands of science,” Slade said.
“We’re calling on RBC to put an immediate halt to any further fossil-fuel investment, including existing projects like Coastal GasLink that violate the free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous people and nations. There is no business case for climate destruction and Indigenous genocide.”
Andrew Block, a spokesman for RBC, said the bank believes climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our age, and RBC is committed to supporting the transition to net zero emissions.
He said, as a bank, the most significant contribution RBC can make is by working closely with its clients.
“As part of our commitments, we will direct $500 billion in sustainable financing by 2025,” Block said.
“In addition to setting a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, we are also working to establish interim targets related to emissions which we will report on in our 2021 [Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures] report that will be released in early 2022.”
Block said Canada’s journey to net zero represents the largest economic transition in our lifetime.
He said it’s critical that the transition occur in an orderly, inclusive manner.
“Given our significant involvement in all aspects of the economy, we are in a unique position to provide insights and ideas on how to transition, including the financial products and services that can help,” Block said.
“Across sectors, we will work with clients to map out their transition plans, and measure progress. Importantly, this includes heavy emitters, whose carbon reduction strategies and transition will be critical to achieving Canada’s targets. We recognize there is a need for many types of energy solutions to meet growing global energy demands as we make the transition to a lower-carbon economy.”