Climate Friendly Banking – Rainforest Action Network targets Dirty Canadian Banks in downtown Calgary

posted by Rainforest Action Network

Calgary, AB – Calgary, Canada’s dirties city takes the lead on Challenging Canadian Banks investments in projects like the tar sands & other dirty energy projects. Calgary is at the heart of the problem and can be the start of the solution.

“IS YOUR BANK A CARBON BIGFOOT?” – FIND OUT HERE Climate Friendly Banking: Calculate Your Bank Account’s Carbon Footprint

Yesterday a group a local activists and I, Eriel Tchekwie Deranger, the new Freedom From Oil Campaigner for RAN took to the streets of downtown Calgary to shed some light on how big Canadian banks are spending  OUR money to finance global warming.   The group went out on the town to challenge Canada’s top banks to invest in the future by suspending financing for tar sands & other dirty energy projects & put the banks on notice while building a local team to keep the pressure on.  It was fantastic to see Calgary take the lead in kicking off local actions born out of a report “Financing GLOBAL WARMING: Canadian Banks and Fossil Fuels”, which can be found here Climate Friendly Banking: Learn More.

This is the first report to analyze and quantify the greenhouse gas emissions of seven leading Canadian banks based on their financing of fossil fuels. In addition, the report makes recommendations for what banks, bank customers, regulators and civil society can do to help reduce the climate impacts of banking.

This action is the first of three actions happening across the country, the other two will be in Vancouver on December 7th and in Toronto next week.  It was a long journey from start to finish.  As a new campaigner with RAN it was fantastic to see a keen and go getter group in Calgary.  The preparation for this event could not have been done without the local commitment and dedication of this group.  This group put in hours of time to prepare amazing visual pieces that consisted for giant footprints made for each of the major banks including Scotiabank, RBC, CIBC, BMO, and TD.  The biggest footprint (approx. 8 feet) belonging to Scotiabank, the bank with the largest carbon footprint!

The day before the action we were contacted by Calgary police.  The police stated the downtown banks had gotten wind of our events and were on edge.  They did not want “protesters” outside their business, and were genuinely afraid of what we might do.  They requested the police intervene, however, the police stated that we were not doing anything illegal and therefore could not intervene. YAY for us!!!

We took to the streets of downtown Calgary (Banker’s Hall) on December 4th at lunch time so that we could meet the business and banking sector head-on.   We went out with a banner and our giant footprints and walked busy Steven’s Avenue passing out information on how you could find out more information about your own banking carbon footprint at Climate Friendly Banking: Calculate Your Bank Account’s Carbon Footprint.

The reactions to our presence varied from outright disgust to inquizative banter.  Conservative Calgary showed it’s ugly teeth with comments like “Hate to burst your bubble, but there is no such thing as Climate Change” or “Oil, oil, oil, it is the Future!  You are all living in a dream!”.  However, these moment were overshadowed by folks who stopped and said, “Keep up the good work!” and “Wow, where did this information come from?”  or “This isn’t a surprise, banks have always been backstabbing us.”

As we continued our walk down the streets we decided that paying the banks a visit was in order.  We attempted at every single bank to ask the Manager to come out so we could present them with their footprint.  Reactions varied from calling security, to just asking us to leave.  When we attempted to enter the malls and indoor walkways we were met by security almost immediately and had a few moments of tension, where some pushing and yelling occurred.   The group stayed the course and we continued to find other entrances until we finally made it indoors where we stayed the path and spread the word.  Until, of course we were once again removed from the premises, but we all felt that we did our job and opened the eyes of at least some of Calgary.  The times are a changing and we all need to be a part of the solution.

CBC came out and filmed us walking down Steven’s Avenue with our giant footprints while we marched spreading the message to the banks “Finance the Future, Not Fossil Fuels!”

Pictures and video footage of this event will be available this weekend.  I will update with links to flickr and youtube once we get it all up and running!!!

Thanks to all of you that came out and put in the time and hours to make this event a success!!! YOU ALL ROCK!