Youth climate activists target Canadian banks in Global Climate Strike

March 25, 2022

CANADA – On Friday, March 25, numerous youth activist groups in Canada singled out the role Canadian financial institutions play in funding projects, as part of Fridays for Future’s ‘People Not Profit’ Global Day of Action. Activists from cities including Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Waterloo, Williams Lake, and Kingston, are calling attention to the big banks’ financial support for fossil fuel expansion that is contributing to our worsening climate.

“Big Canadian banks prioritize profit over the will and wellbeing of the people that trust them with their money; investing in fossil fuels, colonial violence, and the destruction of young peoples’ present and future,” says Aliya Hirji from Fridays for Future Toronto – a youth climate group that led a blockade at RBC Headquarters in downtown Toronto on Friday.

In the past few years, Canadian banks have come increasingly under fire for punching well above their weight when it comes to funding for the fossil fuel industry. RBC is the industry’s 5th largest global funder, with TD the 9th largest global funder, and Scotiabank number 11. Despite a flurry of Net Zero pledges from all five of Canada’s largest banks before COP26, none of these financial institutions have plans of scaling back their funding for fossil fuels. So young people are taking to the streets to hold these institutions accountable.

“As young people, we have no choice but to think about the decades ahead, and we see how the funding choices of these institutions will impact our lives, and the lives of our communities,” says Mackenzie Cumming, a 17 year old climate organizer who co-organized an action in downtown Calgary. “The 2021 report from the International Panel on Climate Change stats that over 86% of the world’s carbon emissions come from fossil fuels. We simply cannot tackle the climate crisis without phasing out fossil fuels. If RBC truly wants to be a climate leader, they must lead us in the phase out of fossil fuels – starting with their investments.”

This strike is not just about the future of our climate. Included in the messaging of the day’s actions were calls to defund the Coastal GasLink pipeline, an LNG pipeline that’s being built through Wet’suwet’en land without the consent of the nations Hereditary Chiefs; as well as demands that banks choose not to finance the TMX pipeline, which recently lost its public funding.

This Strike comes only 2 weeks before RBC will hold its Annual General Meeting on April 7th. Three RBC shareholder groups will present climate related resolutions for a vote at this meeting that would strengthen RBC’s stance on climate. The board has advised that shareholders vote against all three resolutions. Canada’s youth are calling on financial institutions to do better, and put people before profit.

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Media contacts: Lindsay Meiman, Climate Finance Media Director, finmedia@stand.earth, +1 917 970 2281

Evelyn Austin, Banking on a Better Future, info@bankingonabetterfuture.org, +1 519 684 6381