Climate groups target RBC’s environmental racism in ad campaign at RBC Brooklyn Half Marathon

May 20, 2023

Indigenous lands of the Canarsie and Munsee Lenape Peoples (colonially called Brooklyn, NY) – RBC is the target of a new digital ad campaign by climate and environmental justice groups who are still seething after a contentious shareholder meeting last month in Saskatoon. The ads shame RBC for financing environmental racism through the fossil fuel industry around its sponsored RBC Brooklyn Half Marathon, the largest half marathon event in the U.S. 

“The Royal Bank of Canada has a responsibility to its customers and the environment to divest from harmful projects and invest in renewable energy and climate solutions. It’s time for the bank to take accountability for its role in perpetuating environmental racism, poisoning my family and community, and working towards creating a more just and equitable future,” said Roishetta Ozane, Fossil Fuel Finance Campaigner at Texas Campaign for the Environment. 

Ozane was representing communities from the Gulf Coast as part of a group of Indigenous and Black frontline leaders at RBC’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, on April 5. A majority of the frontline delegation was barred from entering the AGM’s main room – despite having proper proxies – harassed, and threatened with arrest. RBC’s racist actions at its shareholder meeting affirm it’s doubling down on corporate colonialism, racism, and Indigenous sovereignty violations.  

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) finances methane, also known as liquefied natural gas (LNG),  projects in the Gulf Coast. The extraction and transportation of gas, which is used to produce LNG, releases methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and contributes to the overall carbon footprint of the project. RBC’s financing of these projects contradicts their commitment to environmental sustainability and combating climate change.

“On one hand, RBC touts a shiny reputation by sponsoring family-friendly events like the Brooklyn Half Marathon. In reality, RBC is the world’s #1 fossil fuel financing bank, pouring billions into Indigenous sovereignty-violating projects and bankrolling climate chaos like fires, floods, and deadly heat,” said Batul Gulamhusein, Climate Finance Digital Organizer

Environmental racism is the practice of placing environmental hazards and polluting industries in communities of color, Indigenous communities, and low-income neighborhoods. These communities lack the resources and political power to resist these projects, leading to severe health and environmental consequences.

A recent report by the Rainforest Action Network found that the Royal Bank of Canada was 2022’s largest financier of fossil fuels among the world’s top 60 banks. RBC has provided $252 billion in funding to the fossil fuel industry since the Paris Climate Agreement was signed in 2016. This funding includes projects that threaten Indigenous rights and cause environmental harm, such as the Coastal GasLink pipeline through sovereign Wet’suwet’en territory, and the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion project.