As citizens, taxpayers, consumers, and shareholders, we have interest in persuading or demanding financial and other institutions to decarbonize the economy by divesting from fossil fuels and investing in renewable energy and green technology. Some institutions are in the public sector, such as the Bank of Canada and energy utilities. Some are in the private sector, such as banks and manufacturing companies.
Spotlight on: Rolly Montpellier and Below2C
Rolly Montpellier, the co-founder of Below2C, always has something in the works.
“Climate is what I do every day,” said Rolly. “There’s the ongoing work on the Below2C website, getting articles out each week, and I’m always involved with Leadnow, as a volunteer.”
One of Leadnow’s latest campaigns is called RBC Divest. Volunteers will “adopt” a branch and then take action out front to inform customers and employees about RBC’s heavy investment in fossil fuels.
Last Thursday, Rolly set up posters on RBC ATM terminals describing exactly what the bank is financing.
“I’m also writing a letter to my bank branch manager to discuss why I’m leaving RBC and why I’ve moved some of my investments out,” said Rolly.
The financing of fossil fuel industries is an issue of particular concern for Rolly. Below2C has been involved in the #FireYourFossilBank campaign, aimed at raising awareness about how Canada’s big five banks continue to fund fossil fuel expansion.
But in reality, it’s not just the banks that are investing in unsustainable industries. As rumours that a federal election will soon be announced abound, Rolly is focussed on keeping all parties accountable to climate action.
“We’ll be writing about how [Canada’s] climate plan cannot promote the extension of fossil fuels or be silent on the fact that Canada is funding fossil fuels,” said Rolly. “So, we’ll be exposing the weaknesses of our plan during the election.”
While it can be demoralizing to focus on all the ways Canada’s government and the country’s banks are failing us on climate, Rolly also tries to focus on the positive.
“Sometimes I’m quite discouraged because I don’t get the sense that things are going fast enough, and then I remember how youth is involved.”
On September 24, Rolly will be marching with Fridays for Future, a youth-led, grassroots movement, for their Global Climate Strike campaign.
“The youth movement is one angle…then those of us who are more senior—with lots of financial and economic power and time—we have a sense of urgency because of our age and our legacy,” said Rolly.
“So, we’re coming at it from all sides and I think that’s a good sign.”
Most people have a bank account to facilitate paying their bills, obtaining loans and safeguarding their savings. Some have life insurance policies. Customers have the right to know whether their financial institutions are climate-friendly. Do they have a policy on avoiding lending to fossil fuel producers and supporting green technology and renewable energy?
- Network member Below2C envisions a fossil-free Canada during our grandchildren’s lifetime. Check out their latest campaign #FossilBanksNoThanks and watch this video with co-founder Rolly Montpellier about how you can get involved!
- Check out this report from Rainforest Action Network on Canadian Banks and Fossil Fuels.
Governments at all levels run financial and other agencies whose activities may alleviate or exacerbate climate risk. Examples include the Federal Government’s Crown Corporations, Export Development Canada, and at the provincial level, energy utilities such as Hydro One in Ontario. Citizens have the right to know whether these public institutions are helping achieve Canada’s GHG emission reduction targets.
- Curious about how the Government of Canada could build back better in the wake of COVID-19? The Task Force for a Resilient Recovery is calling for the government to restart the economy with the environment in mind.
- Find out how Export Development Canada continues to support the oil and gas sector in the midst of a global pandemic by following this blog series by Environmental Defence.
Private corporations in the resource, manufacturing or service sectors may contribute to global warming by emitting GHGs, or they can help mitigate global warming through adopting green technology. Shareholders can challenge or commend managements of such companies by sponsoring resolutions at annual meetings.
- Keep tabs on what Canadian leaders from business, think tanks, labour, Indigenous Peoples, youth, and NGO communities are doing to ensure a greener economy by checking out the Smart Prosperity Leaders’ Initiative.
- The Smart Prosperity Institute, out of the University of Ottawa offers resources, policy and market ideas for ensuring a cleaner economy. Check out their initiatives on a low-carbon economy, building a circular economy and ensuring Canada is moving towards a sustainable finance industry.