Greenpeace organizes a climate party at Scotiabank

A small but boisterous party scene greeted shareholders who showed up in person for Scotiabank’s 190th annual general meeting in Toronto’s financial district on Tuesday.

Greenpeace activists sought to disrupt the meeting of Canada’s second-largest funder of fossil fuel projects while adopting a light-hearted tone at the start of a week of gatherings of financial institutions, including the top funder’s AGM sector, the Royal Bank of Canada.

“It can be a little scary dealing with the climate crisis, so doing something a little lighter, a little more fun” helps offset the climate anxiety that can lead people to feel paralyzed, a said climate activist Chloe Tse, a 20-year-old studying neuroscience and health studies at the University of Toronto.

A van with a loud sound system parked outside the Scotiabank office at 40 King Street West early in the day, with a handful of activists dressed in jumpsuits and party hats dancing in front of a birthday cake. oversized wooden birthday under the eyes of security guards.

Greenpeace activists play loud party music ahead of Scotiabank’s Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. Video by Morgan Sharp

Inside the agenda were two climate-related shareholder proposals – an annual vote on the bank’s climate goals and action plan, and the creation of a climate change committee. The resolutions were rejected by investors, although the second (to “establish an annual advisory vote policy regarding its environmental and climate change goals and action plan”) managed to garner 20%.

Greenpeace activist Tara Seucharan said they and other environmental groups often spotlight RBC as the biggest funder of fossil fuel projects and believe they “would share the ‘love’ with Scotiabank, Canada’s second largest oil and gas bank.

“It’s clear what they say and what they do don’t add up,” Seucharan said of efforts by Scotiabank and other financial institutions to showcase their green credentials while supporting new new projects incompatible with the prevention of climate catastrophe.

She said people often have a close relationship with their bank that can be passed down from generation to generation and might not connect them to pipelines and other projects they regularly fund, in part with the savings collected from Canadians.

“Tell them, ‘I don’t want you to use my money to fund fossil fuels,'” she said. “Right now, if you have investments, none of them have an investment option where your money doesn’t go into fossil fuels.”

Seucharan said those who are convinced enough are choosing to switch to credit unions, but they’re asking consumers to “use your power as a customer” to push for change.

A rapid shift away from fossil fuels and increased investment in renewable energy is needed to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis, according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, putting more emphasis on Legacy Energy Donors as Climate Culprits.

“Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic folly,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said when releasing the report on Monday, calling countries that increase fossil fuel production ” dangerous radicals”.


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