The Bank of Montreal, the Royal Bank of Canada, Scotiabank, and TD are among the banks that are being called out for funding the Alberta government’s “reckless” decision to back the contentious Keystone XL pipeline with nearly C$8 billion in financial aid.
The U.S. banks behind the deal include Citi and JPMorgan Chase, the Rainforest Action Network reports. The deals were facilitated by investment giant BlackRock and Japanese banks MUFG, Mizuho. and SMBC.
Calgary-based TC Energy, the pipeliner formerly known as TransCanada, is pushing ahead with the project “despite active legal challenges, a lack of required permits, and without the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous communities along the proposed route,” RAN adds.
“It should be deemed a criminal act for TC Energy, and the banks that support it, to continue working on this dangerous project during this global pandemic,” said Dallas Goldtooth, Keep it in the Ground campaign organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network, in a release that vowed further organizing and resistance against the pipeline. “TC Energy and its bankers need to be held accountable as this project is unethically pushed forward under cover of a global pandemic.”
“By underwriting massive new bonds, JPMorgan Chase, Citi, and their Canadian peers have endorsed TC Energy’s extraordinarily reckless decision to ram through Keystone XL while a global pandemic is growing exponentially,” said RAN Senior Campaigner Ruth Breech. “Bringing in outside construction workers threatens the health of communities along the pipeline’s route as well as the workers themselves. Responsibility for any spread of coronavirus among these communities will be shared by banks like JPMorgan Chase and Citi that continue to fund TC Energy and any insurance companies that underwrite its risks, as well as TC Energy itself.”
“Japanese megabanks MUFG, Mizuho, and SMBC should be ashamed of their decision to act as co-managers” for a new US$1.25-billion bond for TC Energy, agreed Hana Heineken, RAN’s senior sustainable finance campaigner. That financing “is extremely risky,” she added, “and betrays their endorsement of the UN Principles for Responsible Banking and commitment to respect human rights.”
As for BlackRock, the world’s biggest investment fund manager “made a sweeping commitment this January to transform its business model in response to climate change, and the next month announced that one of its fastest-growing sustainable funds would stop investing in tar sands,” said Amazon Watch Climate and Finance Director Moira Birss. “Yet it continues to pour investment dollars into the very companies driving the climate crisis, like TC Energy.” She added that “BlackRock is not a climate leader if it keeps investing in climate destruction and Indigenous rights abuses.”