Asad Chishti, organizer of the rally to support the conservation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, leads marchers through chants with a megaphone outside the Bank of Montreal in Whitehorse on Aug. 28. The BMO is the second Candian bank to announce it will not directly fund oil and gas projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Asad Chishti, organizer of the rally to support the conservation of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, leads marchers through chants with a megaphone outside the Bank of Montreal in Whitehorse on Aug. 28. The BMO is the second Candian bank to announce it will not directly fund oil and gas projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Bank of Montreal second Canadian bank to join ANWR boycott

BMO joins RBC, the first to commit to the boycott

The Bank of Montreal is the second Candian bank to announce it will not directly fund oil and gas projects in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“It is the Bank’s intention to avoid direct financing for any project or transaction that involves exploration or development in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve,” reads a statement included in the “Responsible lending” policy on the bank’s website.

That policy also includes restrictions for companies involved in business activity affecting UNESCO World Heritage Sites or High Conservation Value Forests, the sale of arms and ammunition banned by international treaties and the transfer of equipment for military and internal security purposes.

“BMO’s assurances to our governments and actions acknowledge that financing drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is irresponsible,” said Chief Dana Tizya-Tramm of the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation in a statement.

“Our message is clear: any bank that finances drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would be complicit in the destruction of one of the world’s great wild places, the worsening of the climate emergency and the erosion of the Gwich’in way of life. Our case is compelling: impacts and prices to develop are high, while oil prices and public support for drilling are low. It is time for all Canadian banks to take action.”

“We hope that CIBC, Scotiabank and TD will soon follow,” he added.

Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and the Gwich’in Tribal Council, based in the Northwest Territories, have been campaigning for banks to boycott projects related to the development of the important cultural and ecological area.

Representatives from the campaign travelled to Toronto in December 2019 to meet with CIBC, TD, Scotiabank and RBC, and later met with BMO representatives via teleconference.

On Oct. 8, 2020 The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) was the first to commit to the boycott in it’s “Policy Guidelines for Sensitive Sectors and Activities.”

“Due to its particular ecological and social significance and vulnerability, RBC will not provide direct financing for any project or transaction that involves exploration or development in the ANWR,” said the bank.

The guidelines also include more oversight for funding of coal projects and resource development in the Arctic and no funding of projects in UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

A number of American banks, including Morgan Stanley, Citi, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo have also made similar commitments.

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com

ANWRoil and gas

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