While Canadian banks aided evacuees during an intense wildfire season, climate activists have chosen to bicker instead about their inaction on 'climate change.'
Since May, large banks have offered donations and payment deferrals to residents across the country impacted by the blazing infernos, reported Global News.
From the record-breaking wildfires in B.C. to the fires that abruptly hit Nova Scotians, they showed a commitment to help in times of crisis.
Yet climate activists contend their inaction only worsens the 'climate crisis' that aids a wildfire season like no other.
"The Arctic is on fire at the same time as Hawaii, and a hurricane has hit Baja California for the first time in 90 years — what more will it take to get our banks to take the right actions?" said Stand.earth climate finance director Richard Brooks.
According to activists, the group has long advocated for a 'Just Transition' towards 'green energy' — a trend supported by the federal government, but apparently not with enough urgency.
Brooks referenced a BloombergNEF report highlighting that Canadian banks provide insufficient investments to expedite that transition.
In the case of RBC, the bank directed nearly 40 cents towards 'green energy' projects for every dollar spent on conventional oil and gas in 2021. That represents half the global average of 80 cents for every dollar.
Climate activists forewarn that neither figure is enough. By 2030, they require a four-to-one investment ratio for 'green energy' to adequately counteract the global rise in temperatures of 1.5 degrees.
According to Stand.earth, overall bank funding from RBC, T.D., BMO, Scotiabank, CIBC and National Bank for conventional energy is down compared to last year.
The group says the lower dollar amount doesn't equate to a shift in bank policy, however, as the number of oil and gas projects receiving bank funding increased by 6% to 341.
Despite the steady investment in conventional energy, the Global News report said the banks have maintained their messaging about their commitment to combat climate change and help clients transition.
"We firmly believe there is a need for more concerted action at a faster pace to address climate change," said Jennifer Livingstone, vice-president of enterprise climate strategy with RBC.
The bank, which ranked as the top fossil fuel funder globally last year by the Banking on Climate Chaos report, did not inform the publication of any shifts in its climate policy.
Ryan Riordan, director of research at Queen's University's Institute for Sustainable Finance, attributed the lack of investment in 'green energy' to high interest rates and economic uncertainty.
He said that not enough 'green energy' projects meet their lending criteria. "For the most part, they find that there just aren't a lot of renewable energy or sustainable projects to fund that meet their risk-return characteristics."
The banks also blame the federal government for dragging its feet on setting out rules concerning sustainable investment, said Riordan.
As of writing, Ottawa's Taxonomy Roadmap Report remains in limbo as they continue reviewing stakeholder feedback.
"Canada needs to scale up climate investment rapidly to achieve a net-zero economy by 2050. By some estimates, Canada's climate investment gap is as high as $115 billion annually," reads a government backgrounder.
Riordan says Alberta's six-month moratorium on 'green energy' projects adds further uncertainty to potential investment.
The upcoming COP28 climate summit by the United Nations is expected to address a path forward on climate financing this November.
Last week, organizers said investment needs to grow 'much faster' to meet their $2.4 trillion a year aim by 2030.
"The time for action is right now," said COP28 president-designate Sultan Al Jaber in a statement. "Climate finance is the issue that lies at the core of the COP28 agenda because finance is how we transform goals into reality."