Protesters in quebec protest RBC after greenwashing investigation

Caught greenwashing red-handed?

Canada’s largest bank is having a pretty awful week. RBC is now being investigated by a federal agency over alleged ‘greenwashing’, which is vindication for campaigners who have been saying this for literally years.

Greenwashing, noun: behaviour or activities that make people believe that a company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is.

The Competition Bureau has opened an inquiry into RBC’s sustainability advertising following a complaint that the bank’s claims to be a climate leader were misleading because of the billions of dollars a year it continues to plough into fossil fuel companies and projects.

It’s painfully obvious that RBC, the fifth largest fossil fuel funder in the world and proud destroyer of Indigenous rights, is a chief greenwasher. Just take a look at its website:

Screenshot from RBC sustainability website


In reality, RBC doubled its funding for fossil fuel companies from 2020 to 2021. Not only this, but it’s a main funder of a destructive gas pipeline called Coastal GasLink being built through Indigenous land without the properly recognised consent of communities there.

Every major newspaper in the country and financial outlet in the world picked up this alleged greenwashing story, causing a major headache for the bank. Oh yeah, the HULK called it out too:

What’s frustrating is that RBC maintains it is a leader in driving the transition away from fossil fuels. It refuses to engage in the serious conversations about cutting off oil and gas companies it’s funding, and funding greener energy instead. It would rather plough resources into making people think it’s taking action. That’s why the brave activists at Climate Justice University of Toronto politely brought this conversation to their door.

RBC and other banks are slowly realising the reality of the climate crisis: they actually have to phase out their financing of fossil fuels. They can no longer mislead the public, regulators, and investors. And they are getting pressured from every angle.

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, said: “RBC is deceiving the public by claiming to be taking climate action while expanding its financing of climate-destroying fossil fuels. Climate change disproportionately impacts Indigenous peoples around the world as well as here in Canada.”

Sports fans are kicking off too

RBC is also being absolutely hammered by Greenpeace Canada who, through its fossil fuel financing, is spoiling the planet and spoiling the jersey of a much-cherished Canadian hockey team (RBC’s logo is emblazoned on it). Activists came out in full force on opening match day when the Habs donned their RBC-emblazoned kits for the first time.

As RBC gears up to set a bunch of climate targets covering its financing, it needs to take a long hard look at the mess it’s created, own up to its responsibility for growing emissions in Canada, and be the real climate leader we need on Indigenous rights.