New Scotiabank policy means all “Big Five” Canadian banks won’t fund Arctic Refuge drilling.

Whitehorse, YT- Scotiabank pledged today to withhold financing for oil and gas extraction in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Scotiabank’s announcement means that all of Canada’s “Big Five” banks now have policies prohibiting funding for Arctic Refuge drilling. Dozens of banks from around the world have also refused to fund oil and gas development there, meaning that oil companies may be unable to finance drilling in the Arctic Refuge, even if they are successful in acquiring leases before the new administration takes over. 

Scotiabank’s policy confirms that “Scotiabank will not provide direct financing or project-specific financial and advisory services for activities that are directly related to the exploration, development or production of oil and gas within the Arctic Circle, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.” The move follows meetings last December between Canada’s largest banks and representatives from the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation, Gwich’in Tribal Council and the Yukon Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS Yukon). 

The Gwich’in know the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins.” It is the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd, which in turn sustains Gwich’in communities across northern Yukon, NWT and Alaska. The U.S. Government is rushing to auction the Arctic Refuge to oil companies, in spite of multiple lawsuits challenging the legality of their leasing program. The U.S. Government recently invited oil companies to bid on land parcels in the Arctic Refuge, ahead of a lease sale on January 6th.

“Canada’s banks have shown courage and leadership by standing in unison to help protect the Arctic Refuge,” says Chris Rider, Executive Director of CPAWS Yukon. “They have shown how important the Arctic Refuge is to Canada, and it should give pause to any company considering drilling there.” The consensus among Canadian banks on protecting the Arctic Refuge adds to the support from all orders of government in Canada. Yukon Environment Minister Pauline Frost and federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson recently released statements reaffirming their opposition to industrial activity in the Arctic Refuge.

“The next few months are critical to the future of the Arctic Refuge,” said Malkolm Boothroyd, Campaigns Coordinator at CPAWS Yukon. “The outgoing administration in the United States is bent on auctioning the Arctic Refuge to oil companies, even if it’s their last act in office. Canada needs to tell the incoming administration that protecting the Arctic Refuge should be a Day One priority.”


Media contact:

Adil Darvesh, CPAWS Yukon Communications Coordinator | 867-393-8080 x9


The Yukon Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS Yukon) aims to provide a voice for the wilderness and wild spaces in the territory. In a world that is rapidly losing its wilderness due to the impacts of climate change and habitat destruction, we want conservation to be a pillar in the Yukon so that rich wildlife and diverse landscapes receive the protection they deserve. Visit for more.