In his message in the RBC Climate Blueprint, CEO David McKay says that “Global plans to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050 require the largest change to our economies in our lifetime, and one that the Royal Bank of Canada is fully committed to supporting.”
RBC – the Oil Bank of Canada
In that same opening message, McKay adds that “the RBC Climate Blueprint is our plan for how we can get there. It is designed to guide us, working with our clients and communities, to contribute to a healthier planet…to build a better tomorrow.” One has to wonder in what parallel universe Canada’s worst fossil bank – the world’s #1 financier of fossil fuels in 2022 – can possibly be contributing to a healthier planet and a better tomorrow for our children and grandchildren.
The remainder of this piece consists of a letter written to David McKay by a former RBC employee now retired and working actively in Canada’s climate movement. Lorraine Green is currently the co-chair for Grandmothers Act to Save the Planet (GASP).
Dear Mr. McKay,
Lately I am ashamed to say that I ever worked for the Royal Bank of Canada, or RBC as it’s now known.
Last week I learned that my former employer of 23 years, was named the worst bank in the world for financing fossil fuels. In other words, by investing CAD $54.7 billion (USD $42.1 billion) in the coal, oil and gas sector in 2022, you landed at No. 1 on the list of dirtiest fossil financiers, according to the latest Banking on Climate Chaos report. That’s a lot of accelerant to pour on a climate crisis already running amok.
Mr. McKay, last year RBC even eclipsed JP Morgan Chase, the American financial giant that has poured more cash into fossil fuels than any other private bank on the planet since the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Quite an abhorrent feat.
Now in my 70s and an active member of Grandmothers Act to Save the Planet (GASP), this news about RBC makes me sick at heart and angry. Mr. McKay, you are putting short term profit and greed ahead of our grandkids and all life on this planet.
We agree totally with climate author and activist Bill McKibben about the role of banks in this crisis: “This is one of the most insane misallocations of capital in human history.”
GASP knows, as do you Mr. McKay, that the climate emergency poses an existential threat to the well-being of our children, grandchildren, and future generations. They deserve a better, more equitable world, one where they can dream big and have hope for a healthy future. You and RBC are killing that dream.
For a bank that repeatedly calls for an “orderly transition” away from fossil fuels, RBC is going backwards. At your annual meeting in Saskatoon on April 5, you added insult to injury with disrespectful treatment meted out to the Wet’suwet’en and Gulf South delegation by sequestering them in a separate room away from the main event.
Are you so focused on financial profits that you’re not aware of the dire warnings released in the past year by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)? If not, here is the short version: The window for avoiding far more catastrophic consequences of climate change than the world is already experiencing is closing fast.
Or, as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned in November: “We are in the fight of our lives, and we are losing. Greenhouse gas emissions keep growing, global temperatures keep rising, and our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible.”
“We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator,” Guterres added.
Canada’s Biggest Bankroller of the Climate Crisis
What will you say to your grandchildren when they ask why you allowed RBC to keep its foot on the accelerator when you knew the awful consequences? While you continue to say you are acting on climate change and are committed to zeroing out emissions associated with the fossil sector, where’s the proof of your promise?
We GASP grandmothers don’t like to hector, but when we see our kids and grandchildren doing something wrong, we speak our minds, and especially now, when the climate stakes are so astronomical. So, put bluntly, we think you and all RBC directors should be ashamed. Ashamed that while we and so many others are working to stop the ravages of climate change, you are moving RBC in the completely opposite direction, and dragging our ambitions for a stable climate with them.
So please change course, Mr. McKay. We don’t have time to wait. We need to hear RBC’s plans for phasing out fossil fuel financing by 2030, and we need to hear it right now.
GASP and Canadians everywhere will be watching.
The letter to David McKay was previously published in the Hamilton Spectator.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.