With branches across Canada and customers in more than 50 countries, the Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank) is among the world’s 25 largest banks. Its net income in 2017 totalled US$7.9 billion,10 making it one of the top financial institutions in Canada.
Like the other large banks in our Top 50, Scotiabank’s role in financing fossil fuel development in Canada enables the industry to continue producing carbon-based energy. Scotiabank’s Commodity Derivatives group, which boasts a “tremendous energy footprint” in the Americas and Europe, provides an inroad for this activity by financing energy commodity production and by selling energy commodity derivatives.11
Head office: Toronto, Canada
Countries of operation: Canada, US, Mexico, Bahamas, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Ireland, United Kingdom, Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore, among others 12
Revenues: US$24.9 billion (2017)13
Assets: US$915 billion (2017)14
|Royal Bank of Canada||CA||8.34|
|BMO Global Asset Management Inc.||US||4.02|
|Bank of Montreal||CA||3.77|
|Power Corporation of Canada||CA||3.54|
|Bank of Nova Scotia (self-owned)||CA||3.36|
|TD Asset Management Inc.||US||3.24|
|Vanguard Group Inc.||US||2.50|
|Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce||CA||2.23|
|Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec||CA||1.79|
|Province of Québec||CA||1.72|
|CIBC World Markets Inc.||US||1.66|
|IG Investment Management Ltd.||CA||1.63|
|Jarislowky Fraser Ltd.||CA||1.40|
|Beutel, Goodman & Co.||CA||1.30|
|Wellington Management Group LLP.||US||1.28|
|Manulife Financial Corp.||CA||1.22|
|Connor, Clark & Lunn Financial Group Ltd.||CA||1.04|
Included are all shareholdings of 1% and greater. Source: Orbis Database, October 2018.
Like other large institutions, Scotiabank pursues various in-house measures in an effort to reduce its environmental impact. These include a plan to reduce Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 10 per cent (from 2016 levels) by 2021.1 In 2016 Scotiabank joined the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, a voluntary organization of governments, corporations and civil society groups that advocates for various forms of market-based carbon pricing, such as carbon taxes and cap-and-trade systems.
With the other big Canadian banks, Scotiabank is a signatory to the Equator Principles, a framework for determining whether potential business activities (e.g., financing) impinge on the protection of natural habitats or Indigenous rights. The bank’s 2016 annual report states: “Consistent with the Equator Principles, to which the Bank is a signatory, the Bank provides project finance loans and project-related corporate loans only to those projects” that are “developed in a socially responsible manner and according to sound environmental management practices.”2 Despite these commitments, its grade from CDP (the Carbon Disclosure Project—a global disclosure program for corporations that tracks their environment impact) is poor. Scotiabank received a C in 2018.3
According to its website, Scotiabank prioritizes “making investments in sustainable solutions and lending in a way that mitigates social and environmental risk.”4 However, to date, performance in this area is lacking. According to the 2018 Banking on Climate Change report, Scotiabank earns a consistent D– across its portfolio of loans to extreme energy development, which total almost C$10 billion since 2015. Loans for 2017 included $316 million in deep-sea oil—more than any of Canada’s other large banks—and $3 billion in oil sands.5 Finally, the bank was also an early enabler of the Trans Mountain pipeline, helping to fund the 2016 initial public offering6—another indication that its social and environmental commitments may not be prioritized.
In addition to lending commitments, Scotiabank holds significant shares in large Canadian and international fossil fuel firms. The table below shows the bank’s top 15 shareholdings in fossil fuel companies, through its funds.
|Company Name||Country||Ownership Total (%)|
|PINNACLE GAS RESOURCES INC.||US||> 50.00|
|VERMILION ENERGY INC.||CA||6.28|
|PEMBINA PIPELINE CORP.||CA||5.60|
|ENGIE ENERGIA PERU SA||PE||5.00|
|CANADIAN NATURAL RESOURCES LTD.||CA||3.72|
|NEXGEN ENERGY LTD.||CA||2.97|
|CRESCENT POINT ENERGY CORP.||CA||2.90|
|PIERIDAE ENERGY LTD.||CA||2.67|
|TORC OIL & GAS LTD.||CA||2.52|
|GRUPO ENERGIA BOGOTA SA ESP||CO||2.26|
|BIRCHCLIFF ENERGY LTD.||CA||2.06|
Source: Orbis Database, February 2019.
A February 2018 Scotiabank report titled Pipeline Approval Delays: The Costs of Inaction has been traced to the Canadian government’s politicization of the need for increased pipeline capacity in Canada in order to protect the Canadian economy. Sourced from the bank’s Global Economics division, the report stated that “pipeline approval delays have imposed clear, demonstrable and substantial economic costs on the Canadian economy. If maintained at current levels, the discount on Western Canadian oil would shave C$15.6 billion in revenue annually from the sector.”7 The amount was ultimately determined to be less than half — only $7 billion8—but not before the prime minister, natural resources minister and premier of Alberta used the inflated value to advocate for pipeline expansion.
The pipeline in question—the Trans Mountain expansion—was recently put on hold when the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that the National Energy Board failed to adequately consult with First Nations along its proposed route. Scotiabank was one of five Canadian banks to support parent company Kinder Morgan Canada’s financing effort via the initial public offering; Scotiabank pledged to invest C$639 million.9
Learn more about the Bank of Nova Scotia at LittleSis.org
The intent of the Corporate Mapping Project database is to engage Canadians in a conversation about the role of the fossil fuel sector in our democracy, by “mapping” how power and influence play out in the oil, gas and coal industries of BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Rainforest Action Network et al., Banking on Climate Change: Fossil Fuel Finance Report Card 2018, March 28, 2018, http://www.ran.org/wp-content/uploads/rainforestactionnetwork/pages/19540/attachments/original/1525099181/Banking_on_Climate_Change_2018_vWEB.pdf?1525099181.