TORONTO — Data from an environmental group shows RBC's fossil fuel expansion-related funding jumped by almost half last year to its highest level since the Paris climate agreement was reached in 2015.
Stand.earth says the bank's US$10.8 billion in funding last year to expansion projects and companies working to increase oil and gas production represents a 45 per cent rise from 2021, and that it goes against both the conclusions of the latest UN climate report and RBC's own climate commitments.
The UN report out Monday emphasized the urgency of taking more ambitious action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while the International Energy Agency has previous said no new fossil fuel supply projects should be built to give the world an even chance of limiting warming to 1.5 C.
RBC said in its latest climate report out earlier in March that its lending and financed emissions are reflective of Canada's economy, and that a balanced approach is needed for an orderly and inclusive energy transition.
The bank's report showed that its overall financed emissions for the oil and gas industry rose about 23 per cent last year compared with 2021, though only after significantly revising down the 2021 level on what it said was improved data.
RBC has committed to reaching net zero financed emissions by 2050, and has set interim targets for 2030, but Richard Brooks at Stand.earth says the bank's funding actions run counter to those commitments.
"It should be a trend downward, but we're seeing the opposite happening," said Brooks, climate finance director at the group.
The latest UN report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change also urged increased funding to climate solutions, which he said RBC is also falling short on.
The bank has committed to providing $500 billion in sustainable finance by 2025, with about $85 billion issued last year, but Brooks said the bank is still putting about $99 towards fossil fuels for every $1 they put into renewables.
"We need all of our tools in our tool box to be aligned around this, and we certainly need our biggest banks to be aligned on this. And right now our biggest bank, RBC, is not."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 20, 2023.
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