Protestors across Canada demonstrate against RBC’s fossil-fuel funding

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Protestors across Canada demonstrate against RBC’s fossil-fuel funding

Protesters rallied at 40 locations across Canada on Saturday to express their opposition to the Royal Bank of Canada’s funding of fossil fuel projects.

The protests, part of a nationwide effort called Fossil Fools Day, took place in cities including Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Halifax and Vancouver.

A protester said the demonstrations were to raise awareness for the bank’s upcoming annual general meeting, which is scheduled to take place in Saskatoon on April 5.

Eve Saint, a Wet’suwet’en land defender and daughter of hereditary Chief Woos, who spoke at the Toronto protests, said a Wet’suwet’en delegation was heading to the AGM to hear answers from RBC President and Get CEO Dave McKay.

“We’re going down a very scary path,” Saint said in an interview following her comments at Saturday’s protests, citing extreme weather events like floods and fires as examples of the impact of the climate crisis.

“The time is now,” she said.

For its part, the bank has long emphasized the importance of an orderly transition to financed net-zero emissions, previously announcing that it hopes to achieve that goal by 2050 and setting a smaller interim target for 2030.

RBC spokesman Jeff Lanthier said the company is focusing its attention on where it will make the biggest impact, which is helping customers reduce their emissions and supporting initiatives that bring green solutions to market.

“We are committed to net-zero lending by 2050 and have set preliminary emissions reduction targets that will help us drive action and measure progress,” he said in an email. “These targets are science-based and reflect a measured and conscious approach to climate action.”

But critics say the bank’s targets fall far short of what is required, and accused the company of “greenwashing” when it announced its targets for the decade last fall.

While RBC’s funding of fossil fuel projects has drawn much criticism overall, one of the key issues for Saint and others is the bank’s funding of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

The 670-kilometer project, currently under construction, which cuts through traditional Wet’suwet’en territory in British Columbia, has been the focus of sustained demonstrations and arrests. Hereditary chiefs oppose the pipeline, while the elected Wet’suwet’en First Nation Council and others nearby have agreed to support it.

Saint said she would like RBC to split from CGL and other similar projects and join forces with the Wet’suwet’en.

She is also part of a small group that filed a complaint with the Competitions Bureau about RBC’s environmental claims and marketing. As a result of the complaint, the Bureau launched an investigation at the bank.

RBC has also funded the Trans Mountain pipeline, the estimated cost of which has recently risen to $30.9 billion.

CGL’s estimated cost has also increased to $14.5 billion.

Companies in this story: (TSX:RY)

Rosa Saba, The Canadian Press

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