Financial community launches Climate Engagement Canada to promote a just transition to a net-zero economy
Climate Engagement Canada is a finance-led initiative that drives dialogue between the financial community and corporate issuers on climate change risks and opportunities
October 14th, 2021 – Today, a coalition of investor associations are pleased to announce the launch of Climate Engagement Canada (CEC) – a finance-led initiative that aims to drive dialogue between the financial community and Canadian corporations to promote a just transition to a net zero economy.
The CEC initiative is coordinated by several investor networks including the Responsible Investment Association (RIA), Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE), and Ceres. The UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) is also supporting the program. The RIA and SHARE serve as the joint secretariat, and the initiative has leveraged strategic leadership from Barbara Zvan, who served as a member of Canada’s Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance.
The CEC program is launching with over 25 investors as Founding Participants, who collectively manage more than $3 trillion in assets. A complete list of Founding Participants and supporting organizations is available on the CEC website at climateengagement.ca.
The CEC’s development was inspired by Canada’s Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance, which in 2019 made a series of recommendations to align Canada’s financial system with a low carbon future. One of the Expert Panel’s recommendations was to establish a national engagement program, akin to the global Climate Action 100+ initiative, to drive a broader and more consistent dialogue with Canadian issuers around climate risks and opportunities. Climate Engagement Canada is that program.
“Climate Action 100+ set a clear precedent for collaborative shareholder engagement,” said Barbara Zvan, CEO of University Pension Plan and a former member of Canada’s Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance. “The question for the Expert Panel was how to adapt this successful model to the Canadian context to amplify climate ambition and action at home. What CEC delivers is a unified vision from Canada’s financial community and support for our businesses in finding competitive advantage in the transitioning economy.”
“Climate change is a systemic challenge for investors and capital markets as a whole,” said Kevin Thomas, CEO at SHARE. “It can’t be avoided, it can’t be hedged against, and it can’t be solved at an individual portfolio level. It requires ambitious, persistent collective action at a larger scale and faster pace. We’re bringing together the whole of the corporate balance sheet – shareholders, lenders, insurers, and others – to set a course for the biggest transition of our lifetime.”
“Collaborative shareholder engagement is the pinnacle of responsible investment, so we are thrilled to see this program come to life in the Canadian market,” said Dustyn Lanz, CEO of the RIA. “Canada’s financial community has set a new bar for climate engagement on a national scale, and we encourage our peers in other regions to build similar programs to help drive the transition to net zero globally.”
“At PRI we are delighted to support the development of Climate Engagement Canada (CEC),” said Fiona Reynolds, CEO of the UN-supported Principles for Responsible Investment. “As a country heavily dependent on fossil fuels, Canada’s transition to net-zero by 2050 is especially challenging. Collaborative engagements like CEC are crucial to harnessing the collective climate ambition of Canada’s financial community required for the country to fulfil its commitments to the Paris Agreement and undergo a just transition to a zero-carbon economy.”
“It is vital for the largest institutional investors in Canada to engage portfolio companies with a consistent and unified message to set and implement goals for reducing emissions and developing transition plans consistent with a net zero future,” said Mindy Lubber, Ceres CEO and President. “By looking beyond the six Canadian companies currently engaged through Climate Action 100+, Climate Engagement Canada is setting the stage for a deeper transformation of the Canadian economy and investor expectations of the companies they own.”
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