Is government intervention necessary to kick-start funding of alternative energy projects in Canada?
According to ClimateFriendlyBanking.org , the top 5 Canadian banks provided $55 B in direct funding for coal, gas, and oil production in 2007. To put this in perspective, Canada’s entire military budget that year was only $17 B.
If indirect funding is counted, the total credit extended for greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting fossil fuel production totals $155 B as illustrated below:
This funding resulted in 625 M tonnes of CO2 emissions per year from fossil fuels - most of which is domestic GHG emission. For example, in 2006 Canada’s entire GHG production was 583 M tonnes from all sources.
Meanwhile these same banks provided a total of only $6.8 B in direct funding for renewable, alternative energy production. In other words, Canadian banks directly funded over 8x more GHG-intensive energy production than green energy production.
So what does this have to do with your bank account?
From previous posts on this site, you know that banks leverage their deposits by a ratio of approximately 10:1. So for every dollar that you leave in a bank account, the bank lends out $10.
By dividing the total funding of GHG-producing loans by the total amount deposited, it is easy to calculate the proportion of deposits that fund GHG emissions. Multiply that by your bank balance, and voila, you have calculated the carbon footprint of your bank account.
To simplify this, you can readily calculate the carbon footprint of your bank balance by using the onlne calculator at ClimateFriendlyBanking.org.
You can also determine how you can trim your personal funding of GHG emissions just by switching banks!
For example, moving $5000 from the Bank of Montreal (535 Kg of CO2) to the TD Bank (485 Kg) will save 50 Kg in CO2 emissions – roughly equal to parking a small car and not driving it for 9 days.
A study by the David Suzuki Foundation found that a $16 B investment in renewable energy—wind, solar, low impact hydro, biomass and geothermal—could in Ontario alone create:
- 5,000 jobs in the wind energy sector by 2010
- 77,000 jobs in wind energy by 2020
- 18,750 jobs in geothermal energy within 2 years
- 51,000 jobs in geothermal energy systems by 2020
- 25,000 jobs in solar energy systems by 2025
This funding, which is less than 1/2 of what our banks are lending to generate fossil fuels, would install more than 12,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2020—enough electricity to entirely phase out all of Ontario’s coal plants.
These are not idle claims, the UNEP reports that Denmark created 17,000 permanent jobs within 5 years of launching a major investment program in wind energy production. In Germany, over 45,000 people are employed in the wind energy industry.
Wind also presents a unique opportunity for a new cash crop in rural Ontario. Farmers can lease their land to a wind developer. Or farmers can install, own and operate the turbines themselves. According to the Ontario Sustainable Energy Association, if 1/2 of Ontario’s farmers install only one 1 MW wind turbine, they could pump $4 billion through the rural Ontario economy by harvesting the wind!
Who says we have to choose between economic prospertity and a green future?
And why are we focusing on bailing out the auto-industry when we could be replacing lost plants with green jobs?