Greenpeace Canada activists blocked entrances to the Royal Bank of Canada’s corporate headquarters in Toronto’s financial district on Tuesday morning.
Climbers were suspended from 15-foot-high tripods in front of the bank as part of the environmental group’s call for Canada’s Big 5 banks to stop funding fossil fuel projects.
All of Canada’s Big 5 banks are in the top 25 global funders of fossil fuel projects, the group says. RBC’s financing of the Coastal GasLink pipeline in unceded Wet’suwet’en territory in northern BC has become a flashpoint for the environmental group as the RCMP enforced injunction orders against activists blockading roads to the project last month.
Collectively, Greenpeace says Canada’s Big 5 banks are providing $1.95 billion in financing for the Coastal GasLink project.
A report published by the group in August notes that prior to the pandemic, Canada’s Big 5 banks had been steadily increasing their loans and investments in fossil fuels since the Paris Climate Agreement.
According to the report, the bulk of the loans and underwriting – some $609 billion of the $700 billion in total – has gone to oil and gas companies. Coal companies received the other $84.8 billion.
Fossil fuel financing rose from $122 billion in 2016 to $160 billion in 2019 before dropping by 30 per cent in 2020 due to the pandemic, says Greenpeace.