FINANCING: Royal Bank policy to consider oil sands impact before lending

TORONTO - At the urging of the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and Canada's First Nations, the Royal Bank of Canada has implemented a new policy of conducting an environmental and social risk review (ESRR) on selected companies before it...

TORONTO - At the urging of the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and Canada's First Nations, the Royal Bank of Canada has implemented a new policy of conducting an environmental and social risk review (ESRR) on selected companies before it extends financing. The review is now part of the bank's routine client review.

The move is hailed by the RAN as a "significant about face on tar sands by one of the sector's biggest financiers." In "high impact sectors" RBC will examine how client activities impact indigenous communities and the status of consultations with those communities.

The new RBC policy will also impact other oil and gas producers. The first test of the ESRR is likely to be the Northern Gateway pipeline proposed by Enbridge that needs to raise $5.5 billion for the project.

For more information on RBC's ESSR policy please visit http://www.RBC.com/Responsibility/Environment/20101222-gn-env.html.

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