Case study: Coastal GasLink pipeline at a glance
US Pensions and their role in financing nearly $350 million in companies behind dangerous project blatantly ignoring Indigenous rights.
Right now in British Columbia, Canada, Indigenous Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and land defenders are resisting the construction of the fracked gas Coastal GasLink pipeline bulldozing through their territories and sacred Wedzin Kwa (river).
With an estimated CAD $6.6 billion price tag, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is among top commercial banks providing the CGL project with working capital, including CAD $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 — while acting as financial advisor for the pipeline.
RBC is Canada’s #1 fossil bank, and the fifth worst offender in the world, bankrolling coal, oil, and gas to the tune of $160 billion and counting since the Paris agreement was signed in 2016.
But RBC isn’t doing this alone. An original case study from Stand.earth and the Climate Safe Pension Network reveals just 11 U.S. pension and permanent funds have nearly $350 million invested in TC Energy and TransCanada, the corporations behind the Coastal GasLink pipeline.
“Reconciliation isn’t financing a project that’s destroying our land, without our consent. Coastal GasLink has not engaged in respectful consultation with us. Backing this project implicates investors in perpetuating violence to our land and on my people,” says Molly Wickham, Gidimt’en, Wet’suwet’en Nation, Hereditary name Sleydo’. “If investors are serious about their commitments to social responsibility and racial justice, they must commit to not financing projects that threaten Wet’suwet’en sovereignty, violate our land and sacrifice our future. Otherwise, when companies talk of reconciliation, it’s just empty promises — and we’ve had more than enough of those already.”
The Coastal GasLink pipeline violates Wet’suwet’en rights and title, and lacks consent of Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs. It would transport liquefied natural gas to the proposed LNG Canada terminal, the largest ever LNG terminal proposed in Canada. By financing Coastal GasLink and LNG Canada, these pensions and banks are implicated in violent and destructive extractivism on unceded Gidimt’en territory.
Wet’suwet’en land defenders have been fighting to stop this pipeline on their land for almost a decade. Just last week, over 65 Hollywood celebrities, including Mark Ruffalo, Leonardo DiCaprio, Taika Waititi, Scarlett Johansson, Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon, and Robert Downey Jr., released a letter to City National Bank’s (CNB) parent company, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), demanding the immediate withdrawal of financial support for Coastal GasLink, a 416-mile (670-kilometer) gas pipeline slated to cut through sacred and sensitive ecosystems in Wet’suwet’en land, in British Columbia, Canada without consent from hereditary chiefs.
The letter comes after a February 25 landmark meeting between Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs and CNB and RBC executives, where the Chiefs issued formal demands face-to-face with bank executives. Days following that meeting, the latest IPCC report painted a devastating picture of climate impacts on Indigenous Peoples and their resilience, and handed a stark warning to investors.
The February 25 meeting ended with the Chiefs showing a heartbreaking video of the years of police violence, arrests, raids, and harassment which continues to this day. The RBC-financed Coastal GasLink pipeline has brought a rise in police violence against Indigenous land and water defenders, with Canadian federal police spending topping $21 million.
“By bankrolling Coastal GasLink, RBC is complicit in Indigenous rights violations and climate chaos,” said Sarah Beuhler, Stand.earth Senior Climate Finance Campaigner. “But RBC isn’t doing this alone — just 11 U.S. pensions invest over $350 million in the companies behind this toxic pipeline. Ahead of banks’ shareholder meetings this spring, pensions and banks must end fossil fuel finance once and for all.”
Today’s case study follows a December 2021 comprehensive report revealing that the same 14 US pension and permanent funds finance fossil fuels to the tune of $81.6 billion, bankrolling an outsized proportion of the coal, oil, and gas industry.
In global coordination around fossil banks’ shareholder meetings this Spring, organizers, celebrities, and communities are gearing up to take action across North America around RBC’s annual shareholder meeting on April 7, expected to take place both virtually and in-person in Toronto.