TORONTO – A new report from Greenpeace Canada shows how the fossil fuel industry-backed assault on banks’ climate commitments has only highlighted the urgent need for governments to step in and regulate the financial sector – in 2022, the five biggest Canadian banks provided 20.4 percent of funding that went to fossil fuels from the 60 largest banks in the world, up from 13.8 percent in 2016. The new Greenpeace report, What to do about Canadian Banks ‘Quiet Quitting’ their Climate Commitments, details how Canadian banks, who were already on track to be kicked out of the UN’s Race to Zero initiative for greenwashing , are using the attacks on ESG as an excuse to ‘quiet quit’ their climate commitments.
“The oil, gas and coal companies behind the attacks on bankers’ voluntary climate commitments have overplayed their hand,” said Keith Stewart, Senior energy strategist at Greenpeace Canada and author of the report. “By making it legally risky for banks and other financial institutions to comply with voluntary net zero initiatives, the fossil fuel industry has left government regulation as the only viable path forward.”
The report traces the rise of the anti-ESG movement back to fossil fuel interests, using investigative work by the New York Times and Influence Map showing how fossil fuel companies and industry associations have ‘weaponized’ key Republican politicians and state treasurers against financial institutions acting on climate change.
Whether it is out of fear of being sued for collusion under anti-trust legislation, or if this is being used as a convenient excuse, the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero changed its membership criteria last year so that its members no longer have to meet the UN’s Race to Zero criteria. The UN had set a June 15, 2023 deadline for financial institutions to meet their criteria or risk being kicked out of the initiative. As detailed in the report, none of Canada’s Big Five banks were even close to meeting the Race to Zero criteria due to their ongoing, massive funding of fossil fuels.
The report points to a new political momentum for regulation. This includes polling showing 70% of Canadians support regulation, Senator Rosa Galvez’ proposed Climate Aligned Finance Act and support from Liberal, NDP, Bloc and Green MPs for a new motion calling on the federal government to “use all legislative and regulatory tools at its disposal to align Canada’s financial system with the Paris Agreement.”
“The wildfires burning across Canada are fueled by bank funding of fossil fuels,” said Stewart. “Since bankers can’t, or won’t, act on their own, it is time for our elected officials to finally lay down the law and regulate banks so they are part of the climate solution rather than an ever-greater part of the problem.”
Greenpeace Canada has launched a new petition this week that calls on the federal government to regulate banks to align Canada’s financial system with the Paris climate agreement.
Notes to editor:
New report from Greenpeace Canada, What to do about Canadian banks ‘quiet quitting’ their climate commitments?
 Greenpeace Canada report from August 2022: Racing to Zero? Canadian banks’ dubious net zero commitments.
For more information, please contact::
Keith Stewart, Senior energy strategist, Greenpeace Canada
[email protected] ; +1 416 659-0294
Canada’s banks must be held accountable for their role in violating Indigenous rights and their contribution to climate change.