TD’s new climate policy rules out funds for oil and gas development in the Arctic Refuge; Arctic as a whole.
The Toronto-Dominion bank (TD) unveiled its new Climate Action Plan today, including a pledge to withhold financing for oil and gas extraction in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—and the Arctic as a whole. TD is the third Canadian bank to enact a policy on the Arctic Refuge, following the lead of RBC, BMO and major banks in the United States and overseas. TD’s commitment comes at a key time in the decades-long campaign to protect the Arctic Refuge. The President-elect is on the record as “totally opposed” to drilling in the Arctic Refuge, but the current administration could still attempt to hold a lease sale before inauguration day.
TD’s climate policy confirms that the bank “will not provide any new project-specific financial services, including 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).
Even though the Arctic Refuge is situated in Alaska, it is critically important to Canada. The Refuge is the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd, which in turn sustains Gwich’in communities across northern Yukon, NWT and Alaska. The Gwich’in know the Arctic Refuge as “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins.” With TD’s move, the majority of Canada’s major banks now oppose oil and gas development in the Arctic Refuge.
“There’s overwhelming consensus in Canada about protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” says Chris Rider, Executive Director of CPAWS Yukon. “This sends a signal that securing permanent protection for the Arctic Refuge is a priority for Canada.”
A growing list of banks have already refused to fund drilling in the Arctic Refuge, including RBC, BMO, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Citi, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo in the United States, and over a dozen banks overseas. “TD’s decision shows how skeptical the financial world is about drilling in the Arctic Refuge,” said Malkolm Boothroyd, Campaigns Coordinator at CPAWS Yukon. “This is a warning to oil companies that they will struggle to find financing, even if the current administration makes a last-ditch effort to auction the Arctic Refuge away.”
Adil Darvesh, CPAWS Yukon Communications Coordinator