Go green or go extinct.
That was the message supporters of the Extinction Rebellion delivered to Canada’s large banks as approximately two dozen people took part in a demonstration outside of the RBC Wealth Management location in Wolfville on April 18.
Spokesperson Jillian Oderkirk of Wolfville said they want the country’s large financial institutions to divest from fossil fuel projects. The group hopes to raise awareness of the size of investments by banks in such projects. The action is part of the International Week of Rebellion Across the Globe for Inaction on the Climate Crisis.
She said it’s “shocking” that RBC leads all banks in investments in Alberta Tar Sands projects and that it ranks number-one in the world in investing in so-called “extreme fossil fuel projects.” According to the Rainforest Action Network, between 2016 and 2018, RBC invested $100.5 billion in fossil fuel-related enterprises. Since the Paris Agreement, world banks – including Canadian banks – have increased annual investments in fossil fuels to $1.9 trillion.
“Those are the deposits of us, ordinary Canadians, and we’re saying ‘no’,” Oderkirk said.
They handed out 200 flyers listing facts about banks and climate change during the Wolfville action. She said there is a social media movement called “Fossil Banks No Thanks!” that is calling on people to “break up” with banks supporting fossil fuel projects.
She said the governors of the Bank of England and France’s central bank have written in a joint letter published by the Guardian in England, stating that the cuts to carbon emissions needed to avoid environmental catastrophe requires a “massive reallocation of capital.”
Oderkirk said they have shared their information with representatives of Canada’s largest banks. They are encouraging members who bank with institutions supporting fossil fuel projects to make appointments to express concern and close accounts.
“That will be a more powerful message that each one of us can send,” she said.
OTHER EXTINCTION REBELLION EFFORTS
On April 15, Annapolis Valley residents filled a bus and joined people from across the province in Halifax for an Extinction Rebellion demonstration. They called on the Chronicle Herald and CBC to recognize the urgency and make the climate crisis an editorial priority.
Oderkirk said the Herald’s editorial board met with Extinction Rebellion representatives and CBC committed to a meeting at a later date.
Demonstrators in Halifax also demanded that Nova Scotia Power stop burning coal and stop clearcutting and burning the province’s forests to generate electricity. Oderkirk said a meeting with NSP executives has also been secured.
Oderkirk said Extinction Rebellion members have been making presentations to municipal councils in an attempt to get more communities to declare a state of “climate emergency.” Many towns and cities across Canada have already done so.
“We have an imminent disaster, we’re in danger, our children’s future will be sacrificed and our own in fact, we’re not so old. I would like to die of old age,” Oderkirk said.
Extinction Rebellion is a worldwide social movement that currently has a presence in 49 countries. The movement began in the United Kingdom in the fall of 2018.
Oderkirk said they have about 525 members in Nova Scotia and the number keeps growing. They plan to continue “rising up” until they affect change.
BY THE NUMBERS
According to the Rainforest Action Network, Canada’s top five banks with regard to fossil fuel investment between 2016 and 2018 are:
- RBC: $100.5 billion
- TD BANK: $74.15 billion
- Scotiabank: $69.57 billion
- Bank of Montreal: $56.58 billion
- CIBC: $37.37 billion