Feel free to copy text sections below to help write your own letters.
To: [ your Bank ] Nov 29, 2019
RE: Fossil Fuel Divestment
Dear Madam / Sir,
I have been a customer of [ your bank ] for almost XX years – since [ your history ]. I have since gone on to become a registered Architect and currently [ your current role in practice ] . Among our profession (and broader industry), we have been informally discussing the lack of financial institutions that align with the eco-social ethic that we commit to as professionals designing for the health and safety of the public realm – i.e. institutions that subscribe to the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV) mandate, or at the very least those that have committed to the scale of carbon reductions required as outlined in the IPCC’s 2018 Special Report. As professionals we have committed to taking action to do our part to reduce the approximately 40% of energy and GHG emissions our AEC sector is responsible for, and to prioritize the holistic health and regeneration of our communities,,. The science is clear and the timeline is urgent. Incremental shifts and conservative timelines will no longer suffice. Our planet will grant us no half points for half measures.
To this end, we are collectively declaring our commitment to action – including divestment from fossil fuels in our portfolios and personal and corporate holdings. (See: https://www.architectsdivest.ca/)
As I understand, [ your bank ] is among one of the leading supporters of fossil-fuel investment among the big five banks in Canada. Unless [ your bank ] commits in writing to ceasing investment in fossil fuel expansion, and ultimately to complete divestment of fossil fuel assets and transition to zero-carbon / climate-positive investments – in line with requirements outlined by the IPCC to remain below 1.5∞C warming2 and verified by a transparent annual accounting framework in line with TFCD recommendations – I / we will have no choice but to close my/our accounts with you, and to move to a ﬁnancial institution(s) that are equipped to service not only our business needs but also our ethical and moral responsibilities as professionals. As service providers across sectors, and leaders of large interdisciplinary teams, this action is also important to our clients, and to the broad associated professionals we work with on a daily basis.
While this divestment initiative is not an ofﬁcial action of our professional bodies, it is one that is being undertaken grassroots by practitioners across the country; and includes Architects, Engineers, Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers and business leaders. Divestment is a rapidly growing global movement, representing (in 2019) over $11 trillion dollars in assets and more than 1,110 funds (including wealth funds, pension funds, banks, insurance firms and cities); among them: our major PLI broker in Ontario, and today the City of Vancouver votes on a motion to join London, New York, Paris, Oslo, Sydney and other cities in this transition. As Bank of England governor Mike Carney warns: ‘(those) not moving towards zero-carbon emissions will go bankrupt’.
I hope [ your bank ] can take action to retain its loyal professional customers. If not, we will divest. Thank you for your attention. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you want additional information.
[Name, Title, Company]
Additional Resources you can add to a second page:
This transition does not mean a transition away from financial viability, rather the opposite. It is a way to unlock latent potential for far greater returns. As the Global Alliance for Banking on Values asserts, sustainable banks are outperforming traditional institutions across key performance indicators. We see this regenerative, value-adding trend being played out at city and country scales as well. For instance, the German economy has boomed in sustainable architecture and infrastructure development, which has increased that country’s resilience, job numbers and lowered overall operating costs of a wide range of building types. At the same time Germany’s debt to GDP level has held steady at 64%. On the other hand, here in Canada we have witnessed an increase in debt to GDP levels of 67% to 90% (from 2007 to 2017) with only marginal improvements to our building or energy infrastructure, all the while investing ever more in fossil resource development with decreasing tax receipts from the industry. As we see it, this is symptomatic of government and ﬁscal policy that has not invested in innovation or the future, and as such our built environment lags far behind the EU in terms of efﬁciency and resiliency.
Canada will not advance to develop resilient or regenerative solutions to mitigation and adaptation so long as major financial institutions cling to ﬁnancing the destruction of our ecological systems. Not only is this a missed opportunity to stimulate economic, environmental, social, human, and built capital; but it increases the risk and cost of collapse – across interconnected living systems (environmental, social and ecological). As Bank of England governor Mike Carney warns: ‘the longer action to reverse emissions is delayed, the more the risk of collapse will grow’.7
The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE) drive consequences home further, highlighting that fossil fuels are directly responsible for 7,100 early deaths and $53.3 billion in health-related costs annually; and indirectly for over $200 billion annually…in Canada alone. When we factor in the cost of damage to physical and social infrastructure from heightening climate shocks and stressors, the numbers are staggering, and rising.
We have the collective power to turn the tides, but we must act swiftly and boldly. As financial systems transcend boarders in ways governmental policies do not, we need you to act now. If we do not drastically reduce the carbon in our atmosphere in the next 8.5 years, the collapse of our collective social financial and ecological systems will be the consequence; not in some far off future, but in our lifetimes and our children’s. “Change is coming whether we like it or not”, and we must transition or perish.
Links you can add to a third page and that you can footnote to support your arguments:
- Canada’s major banks have financed $464 billion worth of fossil fuel projects since 2016.https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2019/03/28/Citizens-Big-Five-Fossil-Fuel-Funding/
- Canada’s latest Financial System Review (released in May 2019: https://www.bankofcanada.ca/2019/05/opening-statement-160519/) While Canada is still lagging behind other G20 countries, it now recognizes ‘climate change’ into its risk analysis as a key vulnerability.
- Money is the Oxygen On Which The Fire of Global Warming Burns
- Rainforest Action Network Report: Banking on Climate Change
- Rainforest Action Network: Where Should I put My Money
- The Guardian: Divestment Meta Category
- EIB Divestment
- General: https://www.carbontracker.org/reports/breaking-the-habit/
- HSBC: https://350.org/hsbc/
- RBC: http://www.rbc.com/newsroom/news/2019/20190424-green-bond.html
- Vancity: https://vcim.ca/impact/were-proud-to-address-climate-risk/
How will Canadian Banks ensure accountability of adherence to reductions required in the 2018 IPCC Special Report, and will they be in full compliance with PRI/TFCD recommendations?
- Architects Advocate
- CAPE Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment
- CELA Canadian Environmental Law Association
- Toronto 2030 District
- AIA Advocacy
- Architecture 2030
- Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
- Council on Environmental Quality
- COTE Advocacy
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Fossil Free Funds
- Green Building Council (USGBC)
- Natural Resource Defense Council
- National Centers for Environmental Information
- United Nations – Framework Convention on Climate Change
- We Are Still In
- Project Drawdown
Added by Jennifer
- Canadian architects are committing to creating new buildings to be carbon neutral in operational energy by 2030, and new and existing buildings to be net zero in embodied and operational carbon by 2050. https://architecture2030.org/2030_challenges/
- Canada’s major banks have ﬁnanced $464 billion worth of fossil fuel projects since 2016. https://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2019/03/28/Citizens-Big-Five-Fossil-Fuel-Funding/
- Greta Thunberg speech at UN COP 24 Climate Conference. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFkQSGyeCWg
Architects Divest c/o
Jennifer Cutbill | Vancouver
Bruce Haden | Vancouver
Andy Thomson | Barrie
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