• Atmospheric CO2 /Parts per Million /Annual Averages /Data Source: noaa.gov

  • 1980338.91ppm

  • 1981340.11ppm

  • 1982340.86ppm

  • 1983342.53ppm

  • 1984344.07ppm

  • 1985345.54ppm

  • 1986346.97ppm

  • 1987348.68ppm

  • 1988351.16ppm

  • 1989352.78ppm

  • 1990354.05ppm

  • 1991355.39ppm

  • 1992356.1ppm

  • 1993356.83ppm

  • 1994358.33ppm

  • 1995360.18ppm

  • 1996361.93ppm

  • 1997363.04ppm

  • 1998365.7ppm

  • 1999367.8ppm

  • 2000368.97ppm

  • 2001370.57ppm

  • 2002372.59ppm

  • 2003375.14ppm

  • 2004376.96ppm

  • 2005378.97ppm

  • 2006381.13ppm

  • 2007382.9ppm

  • 2008385.01ppm

  • 2009386.5ppm

  • 2010388.76ppm

  • 2011390.63ppm

  • 2012392.65ppm

  • 2013395.39ppm

  • 2014397.34ppm

  • 2015399.65ppm

  • 2016403.09ppm

  • 2017405.22ppm

  • 2018407.62ppm

  • 2019410.07ppm

  • 2020412.44ppm

  • 2021414.72ppm

  • 2022418.56ppm

  • 2023421.08ppm

News & Views

Climate motions do not stand a chance in Canada’s banking space

Canada's 'Big Five' lenders are under pressure over financing fossil fuel projects. At their AGMs, however, shareholders dismissed all climate-related resolutions

Content Tags: Banking  Engagement  Canada 

As this year's proxy season has kicked off in earnest, investors across the board have signalled a firm intention to focus on the role of lenders in decarbonising economies around the world.

A particular market of attention has been Canada, as shareholders have become increasingly concerned about the fossil fuel footprint of some of the country's biggest banks. 

Therefore, the spotlight has been on Canada's 'Big Five' lenders: Toronto-Dominion Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Montreal, and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

The Canadian shareholder advocacy group, Mouvement d'éducation et de défense des actionnaires (MÉDAC) recently noted that since the Paris Agreement was signed, these banks invested around $700 billion in fossil fuel financing structures.

As the public outrage against fossil fuel lending grows, the financial powerhouses in question are facing more and more scrutiny. 

However, not a single climate-related shareholder motion at some of these banks AGMs managed to be passed.

In fact, proposals at three of the big five failed to gather the required support, while the remaining two banks will take the stage later this month where an equal outcome is likely.

Climate motions do not stand a chance in Canada’s banking space
AGMs suggest weak shareholder support for climate resolutions

Canada Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)

CIBC’s 2022 annual general meeting (AGM) showed some evidence of shareholders demanding stronger climate action from the bank. 

Over 20% of shareholders voted in favour of MEDAC’s proposal to push for an annual advisory vote policy. At the 2023 meeting, MEDAC tried again.

CIBC management pushed back, claiming that an advisory vote would be “inconsistent with our board’s role and responsibility” with CEO Victor Dodig insisting that the bank is committed to financing the transition. 

“Some examples include a lending facility for the largest solar farm in Canada with over 1.3 million solar panel," he said.

The result: 83% of CIBC’s shareholders voted against the resolution and 6% abstained.

On the other hand, shareholders did reject an anti-ESG proposal to increase fossil fuel lending. The resolution, filed by Invest Now had argued against committing to any net zero targets. 99% of shareholders voted against it, in line with the board recommendation.

Climate motions do not stand a chance in Canada’s banking space
CIBC President and CEO Victor Dodig

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)

A 2022 research report on fossil fuel finance labelled RBC “Canada’s worst banker of fossil fuels”. It was no surprise then, that RBC was under pressure to change its ways.

At their most recent AGM, the B.C. General Employees Union filed a shareholder resolution targeting the bank’s “brown spinning”: the tendency for public companies to sell their emissions-intensive assets to private firms. 

The resolution was rejected by a staggering 98% of RBC shareholders.

In addition, the Comptroller of the City of New York filed a resolution asking the bank to issue a report that “discloses 2030 absolute greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets covering its lending and underwriting activities for two high emitting sectors: Oil and Gas and Power Generation."

The board pushed back, urging investors to vote against the resolution. “we continue to report absolute emissions, focusing on those sectors where we have set targets”. 

Shareholders sided with the board: 82% of them voted against the resolution.

The highest level of shareholder support was received by MEDAC’s call for an advisory vote on RBC’s environmental policies. Although it was rejected, 18% of shareholders voted in favour of the resolution.


From an investor vantage point, failing to set these [high-emitting client] expectations could expose Scotiabank to considerable material financial risks.

Shareholder Association for Research and Education (resolution filed at Scotiabank)

Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)

Of the three banks that have already held their AGMs, a resolution at Scotiabank received the highest support with nearly 25% of shareholders voting in favour. 

The resolution asked the bank to set out “expectations for net-zero transition plans of high-GHG-emitting clients and how the company assesses the sufficiency of those transition plans."

The proposal was filed by Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE) on behalf of the Trottier Family Foundation. In support of their demand, SHARE stated that “from an investor vantage point, failing to set these expectations could expose Scotiabank to considerable material financial risks."

In response, the board recommended that investors vote against the push for such disclosures. 

The board even went on to say that such information would be “overly onerous, prescriptive and not aligned with industry practice”.

Two of the remaining five – Toronto-Dominion Bank and Bank of Montreal have AGMS scheduled for April 20 and April 18, respectively. 

In both cases, shareholder resolutions related to fossil fuel finance are on the agenda but do they stand a chance? Shareholders and their boards will find out next week but based on voting in recent weeks, it seems unlikely.

Content Tags: Banking  Engagement  Canada 

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