Despite increasing fires and floods, Canadian banks are laggards and fossil fuel “lenders of last resort”
Traditional territories of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee-ga (Haudenosaunee), Anishinabewaki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Mississauga, and Wendake-Nionwentsïo First Nations (so-called Toronto, Ontario, Canada) – Released today, the 14th annual Banking on Climate Chaos report, the most comprehensive global analysis on fossil fuel banking, unveils Royal Bank of Canada as the world’s #1 fossil fuel financier in 2022.
RBC pumped over USD$42.1 billion in 2022 in fossil fuel companies in the last fiscal year – an increase over 2021 levels. In total, since the Paris Climate Agreement was adopted in 2016, RBC has financed more than USD $253.98 billion to fossil fuel companies.
Total overall financing of fossil fuel companies by Canadian banks increased in 2022 over 2021 levels, surpassing USD $137 billion – the largest amount since before the Paris Climate Agreement was signed.
|Fossil funding 2022 (USD / CAD billions)
|Global Annual Rank 2022
|Global Annual Rank 2016 – 2021
|42.1 / 54.7
|29.5 / 38.4
|29.0 / 37.7
|19.3 / 25.1
|17.9 / 23.3
|137.8 / 179.2
Public pressure is mounting on RBC – Canada’s, and now the world’s – #1 fossil fuel financing bank, to stop funding fossil fuel expansion and ramp up investments in climate-safe solutions.
At its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Saskatoon just last week, RBC proved it has no interest in Indigenous reconciliation, furthering corporate colonialism in how the bank treated the Indigenous and Black delegation. The bank opted to apply a reserve system to its AGM, forcing Indigenous and Black delegates into a second class room, with color-coded passes.
Outside the AGM, hundreds of Indigenous water protectors, young people, and allies rallied. RBC’s AGM comes weeks after a large force of RCMP C-IRG raided a Gidimt’en village site, and arrested five land and water defenders, mostly Indigenous women. Days earlier, thousands of people took action for Fossil Fools Day at over 40 actions outside RBC branches across so-called Canada.
The day before its AGM, just as RBC re-packaged existing staff into a new climate institute to do “thought leadership” on climate, reports revealed that RBC helped arrange US$5.4B of ‘sustainability-linked’ financing for a coal mine operator in Germany, and traditional owners lodged a human rights lawsuit against 12 banks – including RBC – for involvement in a $4.7 billion gas project in Australia.
Despite net-zero commitments and public rhetoric, RBC continues to finance fossil fuel expansion, including bankrolling dangerous projects that attack Indigenous sovereignty, like the Coastal GasLink fracked gas pipeline without consent from Wet’suwet’en Hereditary leadership. Many of RBC’s oil and gas clients increased overall emissions in 2022.
RBC is currently under investigation by the Competition Bureau of Canada for allegedly misleading consumers with climate-related advertising while continuing to increase financing for coal, oil and gas.
Fossil Fuel Sector Trends (in USD)
Expansion: The 60 banks profiled in this report funneled $150 billion in 2022 into the top 100 companies expanding fossil fuels, including TC Energy, TotalEnergies, Venture Global, ConocoPhillips, and Saudi Aramco.
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG): The top bankers of liquefied “natural” gas (LNG) in 2022 were Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Mizuho, ING, Citi, and SMBC Group. Overall finance for LNG nearly doubled from $10.8 billion in 2021 to $21.3 billion in 2022.
Tar sands oil: The top tar sands companies received $21 billion in financing in 2022, led by the biggest Canadian banks, who provided 89% of those funds. TD, RBC, and Bank of Montreal top the list.
Arctic oil and gas: Chinese banks ICBC, Agricultural Bank of China, and China Construction Bank led financing for Arctic oil and gas, which totaled $2.9 billion for the top companies in this sector in 2022. 26 banks are still financing Arctic oil and gas, including U.S. banks JPMorgan Chase, Citi, and Bank of America.
Amazon oil and gas: Spanish bank Santander leads financing for companies extracting in the Amazon biome, followed closely by U.S. bank Citi. Financing totaled $769 million in 2022.
Fracked oil and gas: Finance for the fracking companies totaled $67.0 billion dollars in 2022, which is an 8% increase over the financing reported in 2021 for the top fracking companies. This increase is especially disturbing given the extreme methane emissions from fracking. RBC and JPMorgan Chase are the top financiers of fracked oil and gas for 2022/since Paris.
Offshore oil and gas: European banks BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, and Japanese bank SMBC Group top the list of worst financiers of offshore oil and gas for 2022. Financing totaled $34 billion in 2022.
Coal mining: Of the $13.0 billion in financing that went to the world’s 30 largest coal mining companies, 87% was provided by banks located in China, led by China CITIC Bank, China Everbright Bank, and Industrial Bank.
Coal power: Of the financing to the world’s top 30 companies in coal power, 97% of financing was provided by Chinese banks. These companies, which have plans to expand coal power capacity, received $29.5 billion from the profiled banks in 2022.
Full data sets – including global press materials, fossil fuel finance data, policy scores, and stories from the frontlines – are available at bankingonclimatechaos.org.
Chief Na’Moks, Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chief, said: “When C-IRG was created in 2017, with the full intent of unrestricted violence supported by the provincial and federal governments, it was to remove Indigenous and human rights of all peoples of so-called democratic Canada. The actions of this unit of the RCMP have proven that those who wish to protect clean water, lands , food security and the very air that we all breathe and depend on, are merely the ‘cost of doing business’ for industries, governments and the Royal Bank of Canada financing this corporate colonialism. No conscience, no morals, no future. The path RBC is on can be defined as either psychopath or sociopath – not a path for a better future”
Sleydo’, spokesperson for Gidimt’en Checkpoint, said: “As the world’s top fossil fuel financing bank in 2022, CEO Dave McKay is trying to throw other banks under the bus — as if everyone is as bad or worse. Meanwhile, the Royal Bank of Canada is financing violence and destruction of Wet’suwet’en people and Wedzin Kwa. RBC’s colonial Coastal GasLink project is fueling harassment by private mercenaries — C-IRG. It’s time for RBC to stop dodging accountability and harassing Indigenous land defenders, and defund climate chaos now.”
Richard Brooks, Climate Finance Director at Stand.earth, said: “It’s obscene that the Royal Bank of Canada is now the world’s dirtiest banker for fossil fuels – CEO Dave McKay should be ashamed. While we work to advance climate action at all levels, RBC is moving in completely the wrong direction, dragging our climate ambitions backwards and positioning Canadian banks as fossil fuels’ lenders of last resort. Publicly, RBC spends millions on greenwashed advertising, claiming support for Indigenous rights. In reality, the bank is polluting our communities, bankrolling climate chaos and Indigenous rights violations to the tune of billions. RBC’s greedy fossil fuel financing is a clear signal for the need for increased regulation and aggressive pressure from shareholders and customers.”
Keith Stewart, senior energy strategist for Greenpeace Canada, said: “As RBC takes over as the largest funder of fossil fuels in the world and other big Canadian banks move up the global ranking, it is clear that we can no longer simply trust bankers to do the right thing on climate change or Indigenous rights. Asking politely will only lead to us continuing to be played for suckers by the big banks. Canada is currently legislating a requirement for auto manufacturers to phase out gasoline-powered cars in favour of electric vehicles, and now our federal banking regulators must similarly require banks to phase out fossil fuel finance while ramping up support for clean energy.”
Dani Michie, Digital Campaigner for Banking on a Better Future, said: “Last year we rallied outside the Ritz Carlton in Toronto as RBC CEO was awarded Business Leader of the Year by Ivey Business School. We gave him a much more accurate award, naming McKay the Climate Villain of the Year. An apt award now that RBC has moved from the fifth largest global fossil fuel financer to the worst in the world. RBC is funding climate chaos, violations of Indigenous sovereignty, and the destruction of our collective future. The callous racism and discrimination on display at the RBC AGM last week only confirms what we already know to be true: RBC only cares about their bottom line. This bank will put profits over people every time. Young people refuse to be greenwashed and duped by RBC, we’re moving our money out of fossil fuel funding banks and kicking them off our campuses until they divest from fossil fuels and respect Indigenous sovereignty.”
Kate Turner, coordinator for Decolonial Solidarity, said: “Everyday people, including RBC customers, are part of a growing movement of solidarity with Wet’suwet’en Land Defenders and other communities on the frontlines of violent resource extraction. Just two weeks ago, thousands of people in forty locations took action to demand that RBC withdraw all support from Coastal GasLink and implement free, prior, and informed consent policies in line with international and Canadian law. This report has crushed what little relevance and credibility RBC had left. RBC is rapidly losing the support of its customers and employees, as well as its public image. From seniors to students, united by solidarity, we will never stop fighting for a healthy and just place for all.”
Gabrielle Willms, organizer with For Our Kids, said: “After watching RBC use police and intimidation tactics to turn away Indigenous land defenders and members of frontline communities at their AGM last week, it’s no surprise to see they’ve taken the title of world’s biggest fossil fuel funder. RBC has shown no interest in taking accountability for their role in fueling the climate crisis, and they continue to prioritize profits over basic human rights and a liveable future for all of us. Parents and families will continue to bank elsewhere and push our government to regulate Canada’s Big Banks until they start respecting Indigenous sovereignty and stop undermining urgent climate action.”
For more information, please contact:
Laura Bergamo, Communications officer, Greenpeace Canada
[email protected] ; 438-928-5237