Extinction Rebellion isn’t using superglue or padlocks this time, but is asking BMO and its customers to think about the environmental perils of continued fossil-fuel investment.
A group of protesters is inside the BMO branch at Terminal Park Mall today, June 2. The protesters stopped by to deliver a letter to be passed along to BMO’s CEO, asking for the bank to end its investments in the oil and gas industry.
Extinction Rebellion Nanaimo spokesperson Vic Brice said since the protesters weren’t asked to leave the branch, they have been taking the opportunity to try to have conversations and raise awareness about their cause.
Brice said Canada’s largest banks increased their investment in the fossil-fuel industry in 2021.
“They should be shrinking with the ultimate goal of not investing any more, but they’re investing more and more money which is the absolute wrong direction to be going,” he said.
BMO has made public commitments to maintaining carbon neutrality in its operations and “align GHG emissions from our financing with the ambition of a net-zero world by 2050,” according to the bank’s 2021 climate report. It is targeting 24-33-per cent reductions in emissions related to its oil and gas lending portfolio by 2030.
“We recognize the critical role of banks in catalyzing climate action and financing a just energy transition to a net-zero economy,” noted Darryl White, BMO Financial Group’s CEO, in the bank’s 2021 sustainability report.
Brice said the bank’s timelines on emissions targets don’t align with the urgent calls to action from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
“The [banks] are not going fast enough and far enough … and there’s a bit of greenwashing going on. Just talking about stuff isn’t the answer. They have to put their money where their mouth is,” he said.
Extinction Rebellion has been visiting various banks in recent weeks and is planning to disrupt business at a different Nanaimo bank branch later this month.
“If enough people tell these banks to change their business model to something more sustainable, hopefully they’ll hear the writing on the wall and actually do the right thing, because time is short,” Brice said.