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Net loss

12 Jun 2024 | OP ED Watch

In addition to seeing things that aren’t there, climate zealots often fail to see things that are. And when we say climate zealots, we include a surprisingly large group of people including, oddly, Canadian bankers, precisely the sort of reactionary capitalists you’d expect to find conspiring against the workers and the planet as the executive committee of the bourgeoisie if you were some omnicause radical. Yet Gina Pappano of “InvestNow” reports in the Financial Post that at the annual shareholders’ meetings of Canada’s Big Five banks, cocooned in their comfortable government-imposed oligopoly, “our organization presented shareholder proposals” that “asked the banks to commission and issue reports qualifying and quantifying the impacts and costs of divestment from the Canadian oil and gas sector, should they continue on the path of their declared Net Zero objectives.” Amazingly, management at all five banks urged shareholders to vote not to look before they leaped and, even more amazingly, shareholders obeyed. Pappano called it “shocking and reckless” and indeed it is.

Also stupid. If Net Zero really is a good idea, if adopting these measures will make oodles of money from the glittering new green economy while shunning the squalid wreck that is the old industrial capitalist model, then these reports will confirm the wisdom and insight of management and provide more support for them and their public-sector buddies. And if it’s not, if someone has blundered in their calculations, surely it’s a good idea to discover it before you squander a fortune in shareholder capital.

As we discussed in a previous item this week, Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister and his colleagues defend their onerous and unpopular carbon tax on the grounds that while counting the significant economic harm it does, Canada’s Parliamentary Budget Officer fails to discuss the economic harm from climate change that it doesn’t prevent since Canada’s GHG emissions aren’t going down and even if they were they’re a trivial share of the global human total. So we say turn about is fair play. If we should have lots of information on all the good things your policy does, if any, we should also have lots of information on the bad stuff, right? Evidently not. Criticism of government policy is “misinformation” or something.

It gets worse, as it usually does. Pappano adds that:

“Ours is a resource-rich country. Oil and gas drive our exports, productivity, job market, government revenues and national security.”

Moreover, in a study for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, she observes, former Statistics Canada Chief Economic Analyst Philip Cross and President’s Fellow of the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary Jack Mintz:

“call our natural resources sector the ‘Golden Goose’ of our economy. And our reputation for political stability and for respecting human rights and the environment – something which cannot be said for many of the other resource rich nations throughout the world – should make our oil and gas industry particularly attractive for investors.”

In one sense the banks should not care. As Pappano says, “banks should not be ideological actors. To go down that road is to severely damage their institutional legitimacy.” So they should be concerned with sound investment and lending policy not various national causes. But Canada’s energy sector is a sound investment… isn’t it?

Apparently they don’t care. At least four of the banks responded to the petition, and:

“CIBC and TD both pledged to continue to support their clients as they ‘transition to a low-carbon economy,’ to quote the language used in both responses. Neither bank acknowledged the negative impacts such a transition might have on its clients or the larger economy. Neither did they lay out potential consequences for their clients who don’t – maybe because they can’t – meet their new anti-carbon criteria.”

And again this “transition” is a hallucination, strangely present in boardrooms as well as protest planning sessions. Indeed RBC was “more forthcoming”, aka more delusional and aggressive:

“‘RBC Capital Markets will prioritize supporting clients actively engaged in the energy transition. RBC Capital Markets is prepared to make difficult decisions and ultimately step away if a client … does not demonstrate sufficient planning for the energy transition.’ Which is to say, they’re prepared to drop clients they deem insufficiently committed to Net Zero.”

Even ones making money, evidently. Which they soon won’t be if they continue down that road. Finally, among this tally of responses (if BMO responded it evidently wasn’t noteworthy):

“Scotiabank declared that ‘[a]s a signatory to the Net Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA) in October 2021, we have set an objective to become a net-zero bank.’… Scotiabank went on to mention its support for the Trudeau Government’s ‘net-zero commitments,’ and ‘the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,’ all of which puts it firmly on one side of a political debate.”

And on one side of the ledger. The red side… in both cases, arguably.

2 comments on “Net loss”

  1. Think Larry Fink and then Bernie Madoff. One might also think Economic hegemony an then Jinping, Modi, Putin etc. This is all, totally and absolutely about 'Qui bono.'

  2. The melding of the economic power of large corporations with the coercive power of the state is essentially Mussolini's definition of fascism. Ask anyone who was attempting to fund the truckers protesting the Covid-inspired authoritarianism about how readily the Banks fell in line. The Oil patch has learned what to expect from the Banksters and many have eliminated debt and or lined up private alternative lines of credit.

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