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At Royal Bank of Canada shareholder meeting, Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs, Stand.earth demand end to fossil fuel finance

Press Release

TORONTO, April 7, 2022 — Despite abruptly canceling the in-person portion of their annual general meeting (AGM) today, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) faced growing calls to phase out coal, oil, gas, and tar sands funding, and instead invest in a safe, and renewable future.

Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and climate experts confronted RBC’s Board and management on violating Indigenous rights by bankrolling projects like the Coastal GasLink pipeline, as well as RBC’s fossil fuel financing contributing to the climate crisis. Melina Laboucan-Massimo, the co-founder of Indigenous Climate Action, spoke to shareholders about how RBC’s financing of the tar sands has detrimental impacts to her homelands, the health of Indigenous people on their territory and to the climate.

“By financing the Coastal GasLink pipeline, RBC is choosing to bypass our right to free, prior, and informed consent and instead justify police violence against unarmed Wet’suwet’en people to push the project through.” said Sleydo’, Spokesperson for Gidimt’en Checkpoint “As an Indigenous woman, I have experienced violence by militarized RCMP to forcibly remove me from my own territory, criminalize me, and jail me. RBC is willing to risk the killing of unarmed Wet’suwet’en people by police to push this project through sovereign lands.”

While RBC rejected a key climate resolution on a technicality, one that would end fossil fuel finance for expansion, Canada’s top fossil bank faced shareholders on 3 key climate resolutions. More than $15.4 billion worth of shares voted in favour of a resolution to more strictly define RBC’s sustainable finance to exclude fossil fuels, $11.5 billion voted in favour of limits on engaging in privatization of pollution intensive industries and $38.3 billion in favour of the board putting forward its own climate plan for shareholder approval in the future.

Outside the meeting, youth advocates led a rally featuring art, a speak-out, and shareholder education. The event in Toronto happened in coordination with dozens of events across Canada.

Despite public climate commitments and Indigenous reconciliation statements, RBC has doubled down on fossil fuel financing to the tune of $263 billion since the Paris Climate Agreement was adopted, ranking as Canada’s #1 fossil fuel financier and fifth largest in the world. Canada’s major banks grew support for fossil fuels by 70% in 2021, including increasing tar sands financing by 51% to $21 billion CAD with RBC leading the pack with $6.81 billion CAD in financing last year.

“I was incredibly alarmed to learn that the tar sands saw a 51% increase in funding to the tune of  $30.7 Billion CAD in just two years since the start of the pandemic. The largest investment came from Canadian banks, namely RBC, who is the top financier of fossil fuels in Canada,” said Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Co-Founder and Senior Director at Indigenous Climate Action. “These investments are not just numbers in a spreadsheet or dollars in a bank account – RBC is financing the destruction of our homelands by funding the tar sands and threatening the survival of all humans on this planet. These numbers are shocking to consider in light of the severity of the climate crisis; it is appalling that banks like RBC would double down on their investments to climate polluting industries when we need to see the exact opposite to adequately abate climate change.”

With an estimated CAD $6.6 billion price tag, RBC is the top commercial bank providing Coastal GasLink with capital, while acting as financial advisor for the pipeline, despite lacking consent from Hereditary Chiefs. Amidst imminent drilling under the Wedzin Kwa river, over 65 Hollywood stars called on RBC to stop financing the pipeline, and end fossil fuel finance.

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For further information: Media contact: Jackie DaSilva, [email protected], +1 647-300-0552

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