Today, Royal Bank of Canada held a fancy reception for journalists at their new headquarters, the 43-story, $400 million RBC Centre. RBC was practically bursting at the seams with pride at having achieved LEED Gold environmental certification for this new building – and was eager to share their excitement with environmental and business journalists.
So RAN Toronto crashed the party, and reminded everybody that building an environmentally-sound headquarters while serving as the ATM for the tar sands industry is the crassest form of greenwashing.
Outside the building, the RAN Toronto crew held up banners, handed out pamphlets, and informed journalists and RBC employees heading to the event that RBC has extended and underwritten $19.5 billion in financing to tar sands companies since 2007 alone – more than any other bank in the world. (Much to the chagrin of building security – who watched and fumed from inside the lobby.
And before the protest started, two super-sneaky RAN Toronto activists – dressed to a T, and posing as interns in RBC’s Environmental Affairs department – snuck into the event on the 41st floor of the building, and handed out pamphlets to journalists and other attendees, describing a fake new RBC greenwashing program – “an important advertising campaign to convince you that we share your values and should be your destination for Sustainable BankingTM.” We thought the brochures were quite funny – but unfortunately RBC’s security didn’t share our sense of humor, and kicked the two activists out.
This is just one of many RAN Toronto actions against RBC: this crew confronted RBC CEO Gordon Nixon at a financial summit in September, held a die-in at an RBC branch opening in August, appealed to Gordon Nixon’s wife to help us stop the tar sands with a protest and banner hang in July, and confronted RBC executives at a conference at the University of Toronto in June. So maybe it isn’t terribly surprising that RBC security was beefed up for the unveiling of their new headquarters.
It should be clear to RBC by this point that this kick-ass band of rabble-rousers isn’t going to stop until RBC finally comes to their senses, stops their pitiful little greenwashing efforts, and starts taking true environmental leadership by ending funding for the tar sands.
Go RAN Toronto!