Toronto-based Scotiabank criticized on climate change at annual shareholders meeting

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: Greenpeace mobilization campaigner Tara Seucharan at Scotiabank’s annual meeting in Toronto on April 5, 2022.

On Sunday May 8, PBI will hold a webinar that will explore the human rights and environmental implications of fracking in Colombia that will also take note of Scotiabank’s financing of Ecopetrol, Colombia’s national oil company.

To register for this webinar, click here.

Scotiabank held its annual meeting in Toronto early this month.

The Canadian Press reports: “Scotiabank faced criticism for not moving fast enough on climate change at the bank’s annual general meeting.”

At that meeting, Eric St. Pierre, executive director of the Trottier Family Foundation, stated: “Last year, Scotia’s financing of fossil fuels increased by 87 per cent or $14 billion in absolute numbers to a staggering $30 billion.”

Greenpeace mobilization campaigner Tara Seucharan also noted: “This AGM is the perfect moment to remind shareholders of Scotiabank’s dirty investments in destructive fossil fuels projects that are fueling the climate crisis and undermining Indigenous rights.”

And the National Observer reported: “’Clearly what they’re saying and what they’re doing is not aligned,’ Seucharan said of efforts by Scotiabank and other financial institutions to highlight their green credentials while still backing new projects incompatible with staving off climate catastrophe.”

Back in August 2014, Scotiabank president and CEO Brian Porter commented: “To drive the greatest growth, we remain focused on building scale in our highest priority markets of Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Chile.”

Now, the Banking on Climate Chaos website reveals Scotiabank’s recent investments in Ecopetrol, the Colombian state oil company that is set to operate two controversial fracking pilot projects in the community of Puerto Wilches, Santander.

Scotiabank provided USD $665 million to Ecopetrol in 2018, another $666.67 million in 2020, and $1.7 billion in 2021.

Banking on Climate Chaos further highlights that this means Scotiabank has provided $3,031.67 million ($3.0 billion) in financing to Ecopetrol since the Paris Climate Agreement was reached in December 2015.

This despite the UN Development Programme highlighting in 2020:

“Colombia is at high risk from climate change impacts. The majority of the population lives in the elevated Andes, where water shortages and land instability are already a reality, and on the coast, where the increase in sea level and floods can affect key human settlements and economic activities. Furthermore, the country has a high incidence of extreme events with growing emergencies associated with climate conditions.”

Webinar on fracking, May 8

On Sunday May 8, Peace Brigades International-Canada will be holding a webinar on the environmental and human rights implications of Ecopetrol’s Kale and Platero fracking pilot projects in Puerto Wilches.

Earlier this week, Reuters reported: “The attorney general’s office has received 33 reports of threats made to activists in Puerto Wilches and Barrancabermeja, a nearby city, of which 12 cases remain active, it told Reuters in a statement.”

That article also notes: “Campaigners accuse Ecopetrol of tarring protesters as hooligans, after the company decried what it said were ‘acts of vandalism’ during [a public hearing in February on fracking].”

The panel will feature Colombian environmental defenders Yuvelis Morales and Carolina Agón. Both are vocal anti-fracking activists who have had to leave their homes because of death threats directed against them.

The webinar will also feature Bronwen Tucker, the Edmonton-based Global Public Finance Co-Manager at Oil Change International, focusing on shifting public finance and subsidies towards a fair and 100% renewable future.

And the panel will be moderated by Luis van Isschot, the author of The Social Origins of Human Rights: Protesting Political Violence in Colombia’s Oil Capital, 1919–2010.

To register for the webinar, please click here.

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