Greenpeace is protesting the Montreal Canadiens' decision to put the logo of one of the world's largest fossil fuel-financing banks on its jerseys.

The hockey team and the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) announced a partnership agreement Monday morning that involves adding the RBC logo to Canadiens' home jerseys worn at the Bell Centre, beginning next season.

"We are very proud to be associated with such an iconic brand as RBC," said France Margaret Bélanger of Groupe CH, a Quebec sports and entertainment organization, in a statement.

But for Greenpeace Quebec, it's not something the team should feel proud about.

"It's the worst bank in Canada, the one that contributes the most to climate change," said Greenpeace spokesperson Patrick Bonin in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"We're calling on fans who are planning to buy a jersey and asking them to paint the RBC logo black. Because that's what this company is doing, it's literally sullying the Sainte-Flanelle," he added.

Among the world's largest banks, RBC ranks fifth in fossil fuel investments ($160 billion between 2016 and 2020), according to the Banking on Climate Chaos report, published by a consortium of environmental groups last spring.

In Canada, RBC leads the way in funding the sector, nearly doubling its support for the industry between 2020 and 2021 from $19 billion to $39 billion, according to Banking on Climate Chaos data.

Ironically, the same year it doubled its support for fossil fuels, RBC also announced a commitment to align its loan and investment portfolio to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.


The CH website indicates the launch of its "The Goal is Green!" program aimed at "positioning the club as a leader in terms of environmental management and sustainable development among all professional sports franchises."

Among the actions undertaken by the Montreal Canadiens within the program, the organization's website indicates that 95 per cent of the utensils, glasses and plates at the Bell Centre are biodegradable, and that it broadcasts mid-game messages encouraging fans to travel by public transportation.

But these "small gestures" are incompatible with the promotion of RBC, according to Greenpeace.

"They want to be green, but they give incredible exposure to the worst bank. It's definitely a problem of consistency on the part of CH and also of credibility," said Patrick Bonin, adding that this decision will give a negative impression to supporters.

"Especially young people who believe that banks should stop financing fossil fuels. And clearly, there are many young people who will be disappointed today."

The Montreal Canadiens did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

This report was first published in French by The Canadian Press on Sept. 12, 2022.