TD IS NOT FOR ME

I bank with TD. Mostly because that’s where I opened my first account and it was always easier to open new accounts connected to that first account. Unfortunately, TD pumps billions into the fossil fuel industry every year. I absolutely hate forms and paper work, but I decided to participate in BankSwitch because I can’t stand the thought that I’m destroying my daughter’s future with those same investments which are meant to provide for my daughter in the future. The chart below shows where TD and other Canadian banks score on climate policy (out of a possible 200 points). This image shows only the very, very bottom of the rankings. The Canadian banks sit considerably below famed predatory lender Wells Fargo.

From the Banking on Climate Change report’s policy rankings. Scores out of 200.

LETTING THEM KNOW

I’m the type of person who gets nervous ordering a pizza on the phone, so I kept putting off making the call to TD. But last week, I finally did it and … it was a pretty painless experience.

Apparently, you can’t actually call a TD branch anymore. You can call a gigantic automated help line that gets you nowhere or book an appointment to discuss financial services. I booked an appointment to ‘review my banking needs’ with someone from my branch and they called me a little after the appointed time. On the phone, after first explaining that I understood they personally had no sway over policies about fossil fuel investments, I stated that I could no longer bank with TD if they continued pouring money into fracking and pipelines and other dangerous projects. The representative I spoke too was pleasant enough and agreed to forward an email to the branch manager.

I’m actually pleased with this outcome as it means two people in the branch will have to think about TD’s climate policies for at least a few minutes. It won’t have much impact on them unless they hear it from other people too though, so I intend to call around to friends’ in the neighbourhood and see if I can’t get a few more calls and emails into the same branch.

All in all, it only took about twenty minutes to call and email and it felt surprisingly good to share my underlying anxiety about TD’s fossil fuel loans. I hope TD improves their policies before soon, both for the planet and so I don’t have to do a bunch of paperwork — but if they don’t, I bet moving to a credit union in April 2021 will feel even more liberating than complaining. 🙂

MY EMAIL

Dear [EMPLOYEE’S NAME],

First, I would like to thank you for your pleasant and reassuring customer service this morning.  I understand that you have very little say over TD’s broader investment and lending policies so I thank you for accepting my request to forward a message to your branch manager.

The message I would like to pass on to the branch manager is that I can no longer accept TDs extensive loans and investments to the fossil fuel industry at a time when climate change is the single greatest threat to my daughter’s financial (and entire) future.  On Earth Day next year (April 2021) I intend to move all my accounts to whichever Canadian bank has the strongest policies around fossil fuels.  Right now, that seems to be some of the smaller credit unions, but I hold out hope that by next April, that might be TD.  Environmental awareness appears in a lot of your advertising and messaging and I have, for the most part, been happy with the service you provide.

Unfortunately, your environmental messaging is not matched by action where it counts most. TD bank received a D- on fossil fuel expansion policies in the 2019 Banking on Climate Change report released by Banktrack and 3 out of 200 possible points on their 2020 report (https://www.ran.org/publications/banking-on-climate-change-fossil-fuel-finance-report-2020).  The recent Corporate Knights report finds that you have issued more than $6 billion in loans to the O&G industry.  Even just the fossil fuel reserves which have already been developed exceed our carbon budget for staying under 1.5 degrees so funding exploration and new development is borderline evil at this point.  I also noted with surprise that your bank refused to sign the U.N. Declaration on Responsible Banking (though you did sign the agreement on responsible investing) which has been signed by more than 100 major banks around the world!  (more detail here: https://www.unepfi.org/banking/bankingprinciples/)

In particular, I hope your bank will be able to commit to the following:

  1. publicly clarify your position on the relation between climate change and the extraction and burning of fossil fuels
  2. publicly commit to immediately end your support for all new fossil fuel projects, including exploration, extraction, transportation and power
  3. publish a robust plan for phasing out your support for all existing fossil fuel projects and companies on a timetable consistent with what is necessary to meet the Paris targets.

I am looking forward to hearing some announcement from your bank at your AGM in the spring.  Otherwise, I will have to move my money elsewhere.

Thanks again for handling my concerns sympathetically this morning.

Sincerely,

Matthew Lie-Paehlke

A worried dad

Contacting your branch will take a little bit of time, but it’s totally worth it! Feel free to copy or adapt my email.

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