“Don’t bank on it.”
That was the message from several hundred protesters, who gathered in front of Vancouver’s TD Tower Saturday in a bid to get the bank to divest from Kinder Morgan.
TD was one of six major Canadian financial institutions targeted by demonstrators, but was first in their crosshairs.
Protesters say TD has invested $731 million in the company’s Trans Mountain Expansion project, something they say doesn’t square with the bank’s green image.
“TD has a very public policy about environmental sustainability, and we think being such a big investor in this tar sands project is a contradiction to that policy,” said organizer Thomas Davies.
Davies went on to say that recent actions among Kinder Morgan shareholders demonstrate that investors are listening to environmental concerns.
“At a Kinder Morgan stockholders meeting, they just passed two motions to do a sustainability review on the project. And that was because Indigenous leaders from this area went down there and proposed those motions. So there’s a lot of pressure there they’re feeling.”
Some protesters admitted executives at TD were unlikely to listen to a demonstration on the street, but said the message could get through regardless.
“We’re targeting people who will then apply pressure to the banks that they support through their investments, through their banking,” said demonstrator Emily Rugle.
In an emailed statement, TD said it remains committed to a transition to a lower-carbon future, and has invested $12 billion in the low carbon sector since 2006.
However, it says that future remains decades away, and that conventional energy will be needed to power the economy until then.
“While Canada is transitioning to cleaner energy sources, TD believes that responsible natural resource development must balance environmental, social and economic considerations,” it said.
“The companies that TD finances are required to have strong policies and processes that comply with — and where necessary, go beyond — government regulations.”
Kinder Morgan paused all “non essential” construction spending on the project this spring, and has warned that it could completely scrap the pipeline expansion if it doesn’t have assurances by May 31 from Canadian governments that the project will move ahead.