Students, seniors put pressure on local RBC to ‘stop funding planetary destruction’

Climate activists rally outside of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) location on Princess Street in downtown Kingston on Tuesday, Mar. 21, 2023. Photo by Emily Elliott/Kingstonist.

Around noon on Tuesday, Mar. 21, 2023, those in downtown Kingston may have noticed a rally taking place outside the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) location on lower Princess Street. Members of Seniors for Climate Action Now! (SCAN!) and Queen’s Backing Action on the Climate Crisis (QBACC) gathered together to press Canada’s biggest bank to stop funding planetary destruction.

Those expressing their distaste for the continuing investments in the fossil fuel industry demonstrated with giant puppets, music, signs, and photographs of grandchildren. According to a release from organizers, the rally was supported by 350.org.

Nancy Bayly (right) embraces a friend and fellow climate activist at the March 21, 2023, rally. Photo by Emily Elliott/Kingstonist.

“Our grandchildren’s future depends on getting banks like RBC to divest from fossil fuels,” said Nancy Bayly of SCAN! “The young people joining us understand this. We’re making common cause for the common good.” 

According to a release from organizers, senior citizens living in Kingston who support SCAN’s divestment campaign will soon have divested up to $1.5 million of their own funds from RBC. Dave Wyatt, 72, and his wife Judi, 71, have just divested all of their savings and investments from RBC. 

Dave’s father, Hal, started as a junior clerk at the Royal Bank’s branch in Eyebrow, Saskatchewan. When he retired, Hal was RBC’s Vice-Chair and Senior Director, organizers said. Dave said that his father “would be completely disgusted” with RBC’s prominent role as a leading lender to the fossil fuel industry.

According to the involved organizations, RBC has lent billions to fossil fuel expansion since 2015. It’s a primary funder of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline being built through traditional Wet’suwet’en lands in British Columbia, organizers stated. The bank reportedly also sponsors Truth & Reconciliation Week, claiming that it “stands for indigenous inclusion and prosperity.”

“When it comes to climate action, RBC talks a big game,” said Kyla Tienhaara, Canada Research Chair in Economy and Environment at Queen’s. “But the reality is that the bank is putting 99 per cent of its energy finance into fossil fuels and only one per cent into renewables.”  

“Young people cannot afford to invest in the destruction of the land we live on, and seniors do not want their grandchildren inheriting a wasted Earth,” added Siena Margorian of QBACC. “We all have a stake in this fight.”

A young rally-goer poses with her emoji-inspired sign for the noon hour rally at RBC in downtown Kingston, Tuesday, Mar. 21, 2023. Photo by Emily Elliott/Kingstonist.

With files from Emily Elliott and Tori Stafford.

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