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Posts Tagged ‘Climate Change Action

Legal action on the horizon as Canadian banks fail to match their climate conduct to their commitments

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Press Release from Greenpeace

Toronto, March 2, 2023

Canadian banks may increase the risk of facing legal action because their weak climate action contradicts their vocal climate claims, a new report from Greenpeace Canada finds. The report, So Sue Me, outlines how the failures of banks globally to meet their promises is spurring litigation from governments and civil society, and finds Canadian banks likely to encounter the same repercussions as they continue lauding their climate goals while financing the fossil fuel industry. 

“Banks around the world are being taken to task legally for failing to honour their promises towards tackling the climate crisis,” said Priyanka Vittal, legal counsel for Greenpeace Canada’s new investigation team. “Canada’s Big Banks should take heed if they continue down their road of climate hypocrisy.”

The report spotlights the discrepancy between the climate pledges and policies of two major Canadian banks – RBC and Scotiabank – over the past six years as a symptom of a broader trend in the financial sector. Canada’s Big Five Banks (RBC, Scotiabank, TD, BMO, and CIBC) provided more than $100 billion USD towards the fossil fuel industry in 2016 and more than $130 billion USD in 2021.

Juxtaposed against numerous public statements and commitments towards combating climate change, this financing raises the question of greenwashing, Greenpeace Canada’s report finds. 

Abroad, the numerous examples coming from the USEU and UK show regulatory bodies are updating and enforcing consumer protection laws and advertising standards in response to industries engaging in false or misleading advertising – in this case regarding the climate. 

In Canada, the Competition Bureau provides avenues to legally challenge greenwashing practices. 

“Corporations like Volkswagen/Audi and Keurig have been held accountable under competition law for greenwashing, but this process can take years while the damage has already been done,” Vittal said. “Instead of risking being the next defendant in a greenwashing complaint, Canada’s banks should be the biggest players in our transition off of fossil fuels and our fight against climate change. They certainly have the ability.”

The full report is available here.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 2, 2023 at 10:13 am

Posted in Environment

Tagged with

Remarkable Climate Action

with 2 comments

I get lots of Press Releases in my email. I don’t publish many of them. This one really is worth reading – and somehow I doubt this will get much coverage in the mainstream media.

Indigenous Climate Action rejects $150,000 award from Aviva Canada due to moral conflict with Aviva investments



Amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton, Alberta), Treaty No. 6 – Early last week Indigenous Climate Action (ICA), an Indigenous-led climate justice project, received news they had won the Aviva Canada Community Legacy Award – a $150,000 award through the Aviva Community Fund competition. However, in a major turn of events, ICA made an unconventional decision to reject the award and cash prize because of a ‘direct contradiction’ between Aviva’s financial relationship with oil and gas projects and ICA’s vision, mission, and values.


Shortly after receiving news they were winners in the competition, ICA received information that Aviva plc, Aviva Canada’s parent company, held major passive investments (over half a billion  USD) in corporations operating in Alberta’s tar sands, including: Teck Resource Ltd (Frontier Open pit mine), Encana, Exxon, Imperial, Suncor, Chevron, Cenovus, Kinder Morgan (TransMountain pipeline), TransCanada (Keystone XL pipeline); and Enbridge (Line 3 pipeline)1. These investments, according to ICA, are in direct contradiction with their organizational mandate.


“We cannot in good conscience accept an award from a corporation that is financially associated with fossil fuel energy projects that violate the rights of Indigenous peoples and contribute to global climate change. Our organization is working to support Indigenous rights and address the climate crisis while Aviva is investing in corporations proposing or operating tar sands projects that threaten water, land, the climate and Indigenous rights,” stated Eriel Deranger, Executive Director of Indigenous Climate Action.


Aviva Canada and Aviva plc responded to ICA’s rejection of the award with openness and a willingness to begin discussion on divestment and how to move away from corporate investments in the tar sands. Aviva has already created the AVIVA: An Insurance Company’s Response To Climate Change(2016) and is a part of a move by the global insurance sector toward divesting from fossil fuels.


“There are other insurance companies who are taking the climate risk seriously, such as Swiss Re who recently have limited their underwriting of shale gas, tar sands and Arctic drilling projects. We want to see a major commitment from Aviva to climate action alongside their community fund and scientific research and a broader commitment to finding the mechanisms to divest from tar sands pipelines and projects. We need Aviva to look seriously into their investment in projects that are violating the rights of Indigenous Peoples, furthering the expansion of the Alberta tar sands infrastructure and pipelines which pose a major threat to the stability of the global climate,” stated Suzanne Dhaliwal, Director of the UK Tar Sands Network.


ICA and many Indigenous communities don’t feel there has been true progress to ensure the inclusion and protection of the rights of Indigenous peoples in the climate and divestment discourse, resulting in continued violations of Indigenous rights.


“Aviva invests in projects that are in violation of international human rights and Indigenous rights standards. Right now my people’s traditional food source, the wild sockeye salmon and our very survival is being threatened by the Trans Mountain project, while communities at the source have already faced decades of contamination and devastation.  Aviva needs to ensure they are on the right side of history and to do that, they must divest from projects that violate our rights and threaten our survival,” states Kanahus Manuel, a Secwepemc and Ktunaxa women at the helm of the Tiny House Warrior project – building tiny homes in the path of the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline.


“As a member of a community actively challenging tar sands expansion, I was shocked to learn Aviva invests in Teck Resources. Teck owns Frontier Mine — one of the largest proposed open pit tar sands mine just 16km from the boundary of a settlement near my community. I hope Aviva will take this opportunity to understand why these corporations should not be included in their investment portfolio,” added Deranger.


ICA hopes their rejection of the prize will move Aviva step up and show real leadership to adopt policies that result in substantive change. This moment could move Aviva, and the divestment conversation, forward to recognize Indigenous rights and cease all underwriting of tar sands corporations and full divestment from fossil fuels.


1 This is reflected in Aviva’s 13F disclosure filed with the Security and Exchange Commission on November 13, 2017 


2 Swiss and French re/insurers doing most to avoid coal underwriting, November 15, 2017 Environmental Finance 



Written by Stephen Rees

December 6, 2017 at 11:41 am