As communities across Canada experience first-hand climate chaos through fires, floods, smoke and deadly heat, more people than ever are rightfully holding Big Oil responsible — and the banks financing them — for this devastation.

In the visualization below, we can see Canada's per capita GHG emissions are among the world's highest. Big Oil is contributing to the problem with help from banks.

As we unravel the financial webs between the billions banks provide to big oil and gas, we also have an opportunity to reimagine, rebuild and reclaim a climate-safe economy that puts people before profit.

Climate justice is not only about what we’re against — this is about what we fight for.

That’s why Change Course, and Canada’s National Observer are excited to launch the first annual Climate Finance Scholarship Contest. This is an opportunity for young people across Canada to share their voices and visions for climate justice in the financial sector.

The goal of the contest is to showcase and share visionary and solutions-oriented stories that reimagine the role of financial institutions in our communities.

Each of the two contest winners will win $2,500 scholarships for written or multimedia submissions. Finalists will have their work published on Canada’s National Observer, and Change Course, and shared far and wide with millions around the world.

We know banks offer scholarships, and while we acknowledge the historical support of these powerful institutions, the Climate Finance Scholarship Contest seeks to serve as an alternative, clean financial option for young people across Canada pursuing education.

The first annual Climate Finance Scholarship Contest will give young people in Canada a chance to share their voices and visions for @RBC @TD_Canada @scotiabank @BMO, @cibc, and @nationalbank, write @batulgulamhus and Dani Michie.

Let’s be honest: Canada has one of the widest gaps between words and action when it comes to climate. Canada’s big banks are no exception. We’ve seen a major spike in greenwashing from major banks and too often, young people are brushed off to “leave the decisions to experts,” or let financial decision-makers “do their jobs.”

Now it’s young people’s chance to shine.

We know what we fight for. We know the solutions, demands and the world we all deserve.

The Climate Finance Scholarship Contest is open to young people aged 18 to 30 in Canada. Applicants are invited to respond to any or all of the following questions in a written essay (maximum 800 words) or multimedia submission (maximum 2.5 minutes). Visit the link to read more about the contest, submit your stories, learn more about the criteria, enter to win and help shape a climate-safe Canada!

1. What does a climate-safe economy look like? Suppose you were part of a team in charge of the Big Six Canadian banks. What key proposals would you offer to build a climate-safe, democratized financial system over the next three to five years?

2. The impacts of the climate crisis make clear the need to phase out fossil fuels and reinvest in climate-safe solutions. What is the role of financial institutions (banks, pension funds, insurance companies) in the just transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy?

3. Within movements for climate and environmental justice, we must centre justice-based climate solutions that prioritize front-line communities. This includes solutions like the return of Indigenous land, accessible and free public transit and housing, care work, renewable energy, and more. How can financial institutions better serve the buildout of climate-resilient communities?

Submissions open on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024, and will be accepted until Sunday, March 17 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Entrants will be alerted by the end of March 2024. The judging panel is comprised of Seth Klein (Climate Emergency Unit), David McKie (Canada’s National Observer), Evelyn Austin (Change Course), Dani Michie (Change Course), Batul Gulamhusein ( and Lindsay Meiman (

We cannot wait to learn and share your visions for a climate-safe economy.

Batul Gulamhusein is an experienced campaigner, grassroots organizer and facilitator. She works at running digital campaigns demanding that Canada’s biggest bank stops funding fossil fuels, and supporting the Climate Safe Pensions Network to force some of the world’s largest pension funds to divest from fossil fuels.

Dani Michie is the digital campaigner at Banking on a Better Future. A passionate climate justice organizer, she also volunteers with Climate Justice Toronto. She is committed to standing in solidarity with Black and Indigenous communities and fighting for a livable future rooted in care for all living things.

Keep reading

In the emissions-per-capita graph, Canada is clearly the highest per-capita emitter. Canadians often justify this by pointing out that we have cold winters. Do climate scientists know how Canada compares with Russia, which also has notably cold winters, and also engages in a great deal of clear-cut logging? Are data available on Russia's emissions?