What’s the Carbon Footprint of my Checking Account?

Crossposted from the Understory

RAN released a new report today, “Financing Global Warming: Canadian Banks and Fossil Fuels“, which calculates for the first time the carbon footprint from financing of fossil fuels by 7 leading Canadian banks – RBC, TD, Scotiabank, BMO, CIBC, Desjardins and Vancity. Along with the report, we also launched a new website, climatefriendlybanking.org.

The report results are striking. The half a million tonnes of CO2 operational emissions – the greenhouse gas emissions from running their buildings, employee travel and the like – are completely dwarfed by the 625 million tonnes CO2 of financed emissions resulting from their $155 billion in financing of fossil fuels, which are the principal driver of climate change. A lot of this money is flowing into expansion of the tar sands, one of the largest and dirtiest fossil fuel projects on the planet.


But what does this mean for the typical Canadian bank customer. Every dollar we deposit with banks, they can leverage into $10-15 in new loans and financing. Are banks using your money to finance fossil fuels and global warming? We created a special checking account carbon calculator where customers of any of the seven banks we studied can enter the average amount of their deposit accounts (or the amount they wished they had!) and measure its carbon footprint in kilos of CO2 per year. It turns out where you bank can have a big impact on the climate. Switching $10,000 in deposit accounts from the biggest carbon Bigfoot bank, Scotiabank, to the low-carbon climate friendly leader, Vancity (Canada’s largest credit union), would reduce your annual carbon footprint by 1.4 tonnes of CO2, a very meaningful reduction.

Learn more at www.climatefriendlybanking.org

1 Response to “What’s the Carbon Footprint of my Checking Account?”

  1. 1 Aaron Kreider Nov 21st, 2008 at 1:54 am

    The calculator can be misleading if you don’t read the details and assume that it is calculating the TOTAL carbon footprint. It is not. It only looks at the impact of bank investments in oil/gas/coal.

    Banks finance 1) other types of corporate spending that cause CO2 emissions, and 2) consumer spending (house construction, house improvements, car loans, etc). (And probably additional things that I’m forgetting).

    A “low-carbon footprint” bank will have a much greater footprint than that given by the calculator (as will the high-carbon footprint banks). The calculator is useful for a narrow comparison (and for doing campaigns related to that), but not for measuring actual total footprint.

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About Brant

I'm one of the Campaign Directors at Rainforest Action Network.

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