In the early morning of Nov. 1, I bundled up my kids and we braved the cold to gather with a group of parents, grandparents and youth in downtown Ottawa. We were there to hold signs, sing chants and greet elected officials as they arrived at the Sustainable Finance Forum with a simple ask: Regulate Canadian banks and pensions now to help protect our climate and our kids’ future.
As someone who doesn’t work in finance, this kind of advocacy can feel intimidating, but more and more, I’m learning that we all have a right to ask questions about how banks and pension plans are conducting business — how they’re investing our money, and why their profits keep ballooning while so many families are having trouble paying their bills.
Creating climate-aligned financial policy would make a huge difference in helping us move towards the more sustainable and renewable economy we all need. Right now, Canada’s financial system isn’t on the right track to ensure kids like mine will have a green and equitable future.
Our top five banks are all among the largest global investors in fossil fuels. In fact, in 2022, RBC was found to be the world’s largest financier of fossil fuels. Meanwhile, Canada’s pension funds own billions of dollars in fossil fuel-dependent investments and insurance companies are continuing to underwrite projects that are fuelling the climate crisis. Collectively, these decisions are locking us into a climate emergency.
I’m just one of many parents across the country who are waking up to this issue and have been pushing banks to do the right thing: provide fossil-free investment options and stop funding projects like the Coastal GasLink pipeline that violate Indigenous rights. But these financial institutions are not changing fast enough to meet our climate targets and uphold Canada’s commitment to reconciliation.
So what would get banks and pension funds on track? A big step would be approving bills like the Climate-Aligned Finance Act, introduced by Sen. Rosa Galvez and currently in the Senate waiting to be studied.
This bill would not only ensure banks and pension funds have credible climate plans and stronger accountability measures, but also make climate alignment a key duty of bank directors, require climate expertise on bank boards, and enforce higher capital requirements for projects that create climate risk.
The bill would also enshrine respect for Indigenous rights, according to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is essential for meaningful reconciliation.
There is already support for this kind of legislation among MPs, some of whom joined us that cold morning in Ottawa to thank us for our support. These MPs have been pushing to align Canada’s financial system with our climate commitments, and they need to see that support from many more people across Canada who understand this is an opportunity to take a big step toward a more livable, affordable and sustainable economic future.
Right now, Canada’s financial system isn’t on the right track to ensure kids like mine will have a green and equitable future, writes Sarah Harvey @ForOurKidsCAN #cdnpoli #EndFossilFuels #CarbonPricing #NetZero
Financial policy might seem far from our everyday lives, but it’s actually a key piece in the fight against climate change. That’s why I showed up — to let our political leaders know we want them to act quickly to bring our financial systems in line with efforts to combat climate change and uphold Indigenous rights.
As I left the rally to drop my daughters off at preschool, I felt buoyed by the collective energy of regular people like me — parents, grandparents, kids — who are learning how to take action and demand our government do more to protect our families and communities.
I hope my daughters look back on these photos as the first of many moments in their lives where they helped to make change and stood up for the future we all deserve.
Sarah Harvey is a mom to two girls, an adventurer, a health-care professional and a volunteer with For Our Kids, a network helping families advocate for climate justice.