on HSBC ending funding for new oil and gas fields

December 14, 2022
“Here’s looking at RBC and other Canadian banks to follow suit.”

HSBC’s Canadian unit exempted from new policy

Territories of Indigenous peoples including Ho-de-no-sau-nee-ga (Haudenosaunee), Anishinabewaki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Mississauga, Wendake-Nionwentsïo, so-called Toronto, Ontario, Canada – Today, HSBC, Europe’s biggest funder of fossil fuel expansion since 2016, announced it will stop funding new oil and gas fields as part of policy overhaul. This highlights the possibility and necessity for banks around the world to follow suit, primarily Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), the country’s #1 fossil fuel financing bank and fifth worst offender in the world. Notably HSBC exempted its Canadian unit from coverage under this new policy due to its proposed sale to RBC.

On this latest commitment, Richard Brooks, Climate Finance Program Director, issued the following statement: 

“This announcement from HSBC shows that phasing out fossil fuel financing is not only possible, but urgent and necessary. Here’s looking at RBC and other Canadian banks to follow suit. It’s particularly telling that RBC doesn’t want to be saddled with a more rigorous policy and had the Canadian unit of HSBC exempted.”

Citing greenwashing, financial risk and climate concerns, environmental law charity Ecojustice, representing, submitted a letter to the Canadian Minister of Finance opposing the RBC’s bid to purchase HSBC’s Canadian unit for CAD $13 billion, unless conditions are added to manage climate risks and restrict greenwashing. 

Canada’s Competition Bureau, a federal law enforcement agency, has officially launched an investigation into RBC’s alleged misleading climate advertising after six members of the public submitted a formal complaint. Similarly, in October the Advertising Standards Authority of the UK banned HSBC climate related ads, after concluding that they were misleading consumers. 

“RBC continues to greenwash its climate commitments and tout fracked gas pipelines like Coastal GasLink as sustainable,” Brooks added. “Instead of financing fossil fuels and Indigenous rights-violating projects, RBC CEO Dave McKay can choose to help Canada meet its climate goals by ending fossil fuel finance, and reinvesting in climate-safe solutions.”

An original report from revealed RBC poured over CAD $9.2 billion into fossil fuels between January through September 2022 alone. 

Led by CEO Dave McKay, RBC released its latest net-zero emissions pledges in October, offering more greenwashing as the bank continues to bankroll high-polluting sectors. The bank released only ‘intensity-based’ targets for its energy sector clients, which are essentially a license to continue to pollute.

RBC is financing fossil fuel expansion projects around the world, carbon bombs set to trigger catastrophic climate breakdown while trampling Indigenous and community rights. This includes the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline on unceded Wet’suwet’en territory; the world’s largest proposed crude oil pipeline, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP); and the Trans Mountain Tar Sands Expansion Project pipeline.


Sign now: Tell RBC to stop funding climate destruction and respect Indigenous rights

The Royal Bank of Canada is the fifth largest fossil fuel funder in the world and the biggest one in Canada. Since 2016, when the Paris climate agreement was signed, RBC has poured over $262 billion into dangerous fossil fuel projects that threaten the very existence of our planet.

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