The news: The biggest Canadian banks more than doubled funding into highly polluting tar sands oil projects to $16.8 billion last year, according to a report by a coalition of environmental groups.
More on this: The report casts doubts over Canadian banks’ commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050, despite their having signed the UN-convened banking alliance pledge.
Words versus actions: Banks face mounting pressure from the public to prioritize combating climate change but the actions of some banks don’t reflect their stated good intentions:
The big takeaway: Banks that fail to move sustainability up the agenda risk alienating clients.
Last year, over half of those surveyed in every Canadian province showed some support for phasing out fossil fuel use, per Environics. This concern for the environment will only strengthen as Generation Z takes up additional banking products.
Canada’s biggest banks have yet to make the sweeping changes needed to hit their net-zero portfolio targets. At some point, public pressure and growing concerns over environmental damage will force them to act or face charges of hypocrisy. Long-term changes that drive sustainability across the organization will benefit banks more than short-term financing that could harm their brands and bottom lines.
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