Switch to a Fossil-Free Bank

Did you know? RBC, CIBC, BMO, Scotiabank & CIBC financed US$ 338 billion to fossil fuel projects in the 3 years after the Paris Climate Agreement.

What can you do? WALK AWAY FROM THE BIG 5!

Need no convincing? But, want to know how? Click here.

The world felt relief and a sense of optimism in December 2015 when 195 countries finally signed the Paris Climate Agreement. The Agreement specifically expected that governments at all levels, individuals, private industry, and the big financial institutions all do their part. Each has a role to play.

But, sadly, the reality doesn’t fit with the agreement. In fact, Canada’s big 5 banks have gone in the opposite direction. Between 2016 and 2018 they have loaned over a third of a trillion dollars to the fossil fuel producers. This is unconscionable! They have become partners with the fossil fuel industry and part of the problem.


So where do you and I fit in? Now’s our opportunity … If the banks won’t divest from fossil fuels, then we’ll divest from them. Let’s make the switch from these five banks!


Today there are several alternatives to the big five Canadian banks. These include credit unions. Tim Nash, the Sustainable Economist, provides several reasons why credit unions may be a better choice

  • They are not driven by profit, instead their goal is to maximize member satisfaction
  • Their governance is more democratic with the one-member-one-vote rule, and not the one-share-equals-one-vote rule
  • Money often stays in the community
  • They offer many of the same services as traditional banks

In addition, Matt Price wrote in The Tyee that credit unions are alternatives to the big banks for the climate-conscious Canadian or institution.

Credit unions offer many of the functionalities you expect from a bank, including providing chequing and savings accounts, online banking, mortgages, investment advice, etc. And, they are federally or provincially regulated. Did you know that nearly 5.7 million or about 1 in 5 Canadians use a credit union for their banking needs? You can learn more about Canadian credit unions here.

 Say NO! to the big five Canadian Banks that continue to invest in fossil fuels, thus putting us and future generations, environment and the planet at risk. Make the switch! And, when you do, tell the big five banks why you are closing your account with them using the template letters below.

Switching from the big 5…

In the coming months, we hope to compile a larger list of “fossil free” banks in Canada or banks that do not finance mega fossil fuel projects. In the meanwhile, here are the credit unions in Ottawa. 

Switch Your Bank Account in 5 Steps

  • Choose a local financial institution. 
  • Explore if the financial institution can meet your needs. Meet or talk with a representative.
  • If it meets your needs, open an account
  • Update your direct deposit information with your employer, and direct debits for any automatic bill payments and deductions.
  • Once you’ve received your new card(s) and direct debits have shifted, close your old account and tell a bank manager why you left.

Template letters to the five banks are available for your use

RBC leaving letter template

Scotiabank leaving letter template

CIBC leaving letter template

BMO leaving letter template

TD Bank leaving letter template

Share on social media to amplify your impact using solidarity hashtags like #BankExit #MoveYourMoney #DeFundPipelines. Also, we would love to hear back from you on your experience in switching (or attempts to switch) away from the five largest banks.

Reference: Banking. DivestInvestGuide.org

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