Canada’s sixth-biggest bank has to look abroad for projects to meet its renewable energy investment targets, its CEO revealed during the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting late last month.
At the meeting in Quebec City, Montreal-based National Bank of Canada “fielded questions about how quickly it will move toward financing more sustainable energy projects and technologies,” the Globe and Mail reports. Unlike institutions like the Royal Bank of Canada and TD Bank that have been more ardent funders of expanded fossil industry production, National Bank “has pledged that its portfolio of loans to renewable energy companies will grow at least as fast, dollar for dollar, as its portfolio for traditional energy sources such as oil and gas. But it has had to look abroad to find enough clients to fill its lending book.”
“Pollution knows no boundaries, so we have an impact anyway,” CEO Louis Vachon told shareholders. With some Canadian firms pursuing business outside the country, “we’re accompanying our Canadian clients who are doing more renewables outside of Canada.”
But “to maintain that growth in renewables, we find ourselves financing projects now in the U.S. and in Europe, because we don’t see enough projects in Canada,” he told the Globe.
Vachon also stressed that the bank has no plans to withdraw from its investments in the Canadian oilpatch. “We’ve had a business for over 40 years in Alberta. We continue to lend to the oil and gas sector,” he said. “And there were no propositions today, you noticed, to stop lending to the oil and gas sector.”