As RBC-financed CGL drills fracked gas pipeline under Wedzin Kwa, bank vice-president attends COP27 talks in Egypt
On November 5, the day before the United Nations COP27 climate summit began in Egypt, PBI-Canada observed a Decolonial Solidarity screening of Wet’suwet’en resistance videos on the side of a Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) branch in downtown Ottawa.
The video in the photo above includes Wet’suwet’en land defender Molly Wickham (Sleydo’) stating: “We want all the investors of the Coastal GasLink pipeline project to know this is a bad investment. We want everybody to know that the Wet’suwet’en are standing up against the climate chaos that is happening in the world right now.”
RBC is financing this fracked gas pipeline, including $275 million in project finance, a co-financed $6.5 billion loan, a $40 million corporate loan, and $200 million in co-financed working capital. RBC also acts as a financial advisor to Coastal GasLink.
RBC at COP27
Now, the Financial Post reports: “Canada’s delegation heading to the United Nations’ COP27 climate change conference this week in Egypt will not include Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but there will be a Canada Pavilion for the first time and it includes representatives from the oilsands industry, which is attracting some intense criticism.”
The article continues: “This year’s event has attracted corporate representatives from the Royal Bank of Canada, pipeline giant Enbridge Inc. and oil majors Cenovus Energy Inc. and Imperial Oil Ltd. Attendees also reported seeing a representative from Suncor Energy Inc. at the Pavilion on Tuesday.”
The criminalization and murder of land defenders
The UN Human Rights Council has affirmed that “human rights defenders, including environmental human rights defenders, must be ensured a safe and enabling environment to undertake their work free from hindrance and insecurity, in recognition of their important role in supporting States to fulfil their obligations under the Paris Agreement.”
That resolution was adopted in March 2019. At least 639 land and environmental defenders have been killed since then.
Many more defenders have been threatened, criminalized and judicialized for protecting land, water and territory and resisting extractivism.
More than a dozen land defenders, including Sleydo’, arrested by the RCMP on Wet’suwet’en territory in November 2021 are facing criminal contempt charges.
In the video shown on the side of the RBC branch in Ottawa, Sleydo’ says: “We will continue to protect our lands, continue to protect our clean drinking water, continue to protect our salmon for future generations.”
This video shows the RCMP tearing down the door of a cabin on November 19, 2021, to arrest Sleydo’, two journalists and others.
Protection measures needed
In the lead up to COP27, Global Witness, CIVICUS and other organizations released a set of recommendations for policymakers attending COP27 calling on them to take meaningful steps to protect those on the frontlines of the climate crisis.
Silvana Baldovino of the Sociedad Peruana de Derecho Ambiental (SPDA) highlighted: “A higher recognition and incorporation by UNFCCC and COP27 of the role of defenders in facing the climate crisis is crucial to move States towards stronger protection schemes.”
And yet, a “safe and enabling environment” for environmental defenders is not on the agenda of the COP27.
Last year, Tla’amin land defender Ta’Kaiya Blaney explained: “COP26 is a performance, it’s an illusion constructed to salvage capitalist economies rooted in resource extraction and colonialism. I didn’t come here to fix the agenda I came here to disrupt it. Colonialism is what caused climate change and I’m not going to my colonizers for solutions.”
We continue to follow this with concern.
Image from Gidimt’en Yintah Access RBC Toolkit.