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Royal Bank of Canada

At the Royal Bank of Canada’s (RBC) annual general meeting on April 5th 2023, we are encouraging shareholders to vote in favour of three resolutions filed by New York City Comptroller, Stand. Earth’s and BCGEU, respectively.

Climate change poses a systemic risk, with an estimated global GDP loss of 11-14% by 2050 under our current trajectory and consumption of fossil fuels. While some high-emitting global companies continue to implement measures to mitigate climate risk and respond to concerns voiced by investors, RBC continues to play with fire.

RBC is Canada’s most prominent fossil fuel financier and fifth globally, providing over US$200 billion in lending and underwriting to fossil fuel companies during 2016-2021. The bank financed companies like Enbridge and Tamarack for projects determined to prolong the shelf-life of fossil fuels at the expense of Indigenous communities.

RBC has undertaken such action despite its commitment to achieving net zero by 2050 and upholding Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) as signatories of the Equator Principles. However, RBC has proven that such commitments are smoke and mirrors.

Currently, RBC is being investigated by Canada’s Competition Bureau for “alleged deceptive marketing practices” relating to the bank’s stated net-zero commitments, alleging that RBC’s public commitment to net zero is not credibly aligned with the bank’s actual financing activities. One example being RBC’s financing of fossil fuel projects like the Coastal GasLink Pipeline, violating its commitment to FPIC and invalidating its climate commitments.

With no clear strategy defined for fossil fuel phase-out, RBC’s prolonged exposure to fossil fuels will continue to increase transition risk for shareholders, impacting shareholders financially and opening them up to regulatory, litigation and reputational risk.

What can shareholders do?

Shareholders can take matters into their own hands by supporting resolutions calling on RBC to make tangible changes to its fossil fuel policies and funding practices.

On April 5th 2023, we’re calling on shareholders to vote in favour of three resolutions filed by their peers:

  • The resolution filed by the New York City Comptroller calls on RBC to develop and publish 2030 targets and provide transparency on its contribution to high emitting sectors about absolute emissions reduction plans in line with climate science net zero pathways.
  • Stand. Earth’s shareholder resolution calls for a time-sensitive policy to phase out any further funding of companies and projects tied to a new fossil fuel exploration, development and transportation.
  • Lastly, BCGEU’s resolution calling on RBC to revise its Human Rights Position Statement to cement and operationalise its commitment by explicitly referencing FPIC in its Human Rights Position Statement, ensuring consent is sought for projects impacting Indigenous communities from both the bank and its clients.
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