Banks

Canada’s big five banks have increased their aid to fossil fuels by 70% in 2021

While recognizing that a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is necessary, Canada’s big five banks — RBC, Scotiabank, TD, BMO and CIBC — have increased their support for the fossil fuel sector by 70% by 2021 compared to the previous year. This is what emerges from the latest edition of the report Banking on climate chaos, published Wednesday by a consortium of civil society organizations supported by Greenpeace Canada.

Since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, six years ago, the financing of fossil fuels provided by the 60 largest banks in the world has reached a total of 4.6 trillion US dollars. Last year alone, their support for the sector reached 742 billion.

Unchanged practices

The big Canadian banks don’t do well in this global picture. From 2016 to 2021, they provided support of nearly $700 billion for fossil fuels. RBC is by far the one with the worst balance sheet ($201 billion in total), followed by Scotiabank ($149 billion), TD ($141 billion), Bank of Montreal ($117 billion) and CIBC ($90 billion). billion).

Note that Desjardins is not part of the ranking of the main financiers of fossil fuels mentioned in the report.

After having all reduced their funding to this sector in 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, they have greatly increased it, by 70%, in 2021. Since the Paris Agreement, their support for fossil fuels has increased by approximately 30 %.

“It’s completely the opposite of what should be done,” says Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada. “In the past year, we have seen all the banks commit to achieving carbon neutrality, but when we look at the figures, we can see that they are not changing their practices,” he laments.

“This report proves to us that we cannot trust banks just on the basis of their good intentions. They will continue to do what is most profitable for them”, adds Mr. Stewart, arguing for better government regulation.

Last week, Senator and environmental expert Rosa Galvez tabled a bill along these lines to force the financial sector to align with Canada’s climate goals.

Funding deemed alarming

While the major US banks are still among the global leaders of those having allocated the most financing to the fossil fuel sector since the Paris Agreement, Canadian banks also continue to be overrepresented. Three of them — RBC, Scotiabank and TD — are among the top twelve creditors, and five are among the top twenty, accounting for a quarter of that ranking.

The increased support of Canadian banks for the oil sands sector is also particularly alarming, underlines Keith Stewart of Greenpeace Canada.

In 2021, funding for this sector worldwide reached US$23.3 billion – a 51% increase over the previous year, particularly encouraged by RBC and TD.

“Big banks invest heavily in public relations to promote their climate actions, but they better put money into climate solutions,” says Mr. Stewart.

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