Environmental Groups Welcome Conservative Rejection of HSBC Takeover by RBC

October 20, 2023
Allowing the world's biggest fossil fuel financier to just get bigger while reducing competition makes no financial or environmental sense.

Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre’s opposition to the proposed takeover of HSBC Canada by RBC shows an exceedingly rare area of agreement with environmental organizations. A coalition of climate, Indigenous rights and democracy groups have been fighting the RBC takeover since it was announced late last year, and are also calling on Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to block this takeover.  

While we agree less competition in Canada’s already too profitable banking sector will make affordability even worse, we are also concerned that this takeover will put our climate targets even further out of reach, while setting back Indigenous rights, at a time when the Trudeau government says reconciliation and climate change are top priorities for the government.

RBC has contributed over $340B in fossil fuel financing since the Paris Climate Agreement, making it the world’s number one funder of the companies and industries driving climate change. 

“Allowing the world’s biggest fossil fuel financier to just get bigger while reducing competition makes no financial or environmental sense. Minister Freeland needs to just do the right thing for our climate, for Indigenous rights, and for bank workers and customers and reject this mega deal,” said Richard Brooks Climate Finance Director Stand.earth.

HSBC in contrast was taking action on its climate commitments. HSBC announced a policy last year to stop oil and gas project financing and its funding of fossil fuels dropped significantly in 2022. RBC had that policy removed from its conditions for the takeover, and RBC’s funding of fossil fuels went up in 2022. HSBC’s support for renewable energy was also significantly higher than RBC’s, which is among the lowest of all Western banks. 

This takeover will also set back efforts at reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. RBC’s track record of violating Indigenous rights and consent continues to be highlighted through its investments such as Coastal GasLink and TransMountain. RBC has no meaningful Indigenous rights policies guiding its business operations, and mistreated Indigenous peoples at their 2023 AGM in Saskatoon through intimidation, harassment and abuse of power.

“The ball is in Chrystia Freeland’s court. She needs to prove she’ll act in the interests of Canadians and block this merger. RBC is the world’s biggest bankroller of fossil fuels, it’s hard to see how they square that with their other climate commitments,” added Shanaaz Gokool, Executive Director at Leadnow. “Beyond exacerbating climate risk, this merger will reduce competition in the banking sector — bad news for all Canadians, especially those already buckling under a housing affordability crisis.”