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Author: Don Obrien

Financial Community Launches Climate Engagement Canada to Promote a Just Transition to a Net-Zero Economy


TORONTO–()–Today, a coalition of investor associations is 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 27 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.

CEC investor participants will identify approximately 40 of the country’s highest greenhouse gas-emitting corporations, and will work collaboratively to engage with these companies to encourage leading practices with respect to climate change risks and opportunities.

“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.”

Investor Participant Statements:

  • Melanie Adams, Vice President and Head, Corporate Governance and Responsible Investment, RBC Global Asset Management – “RBC Global Asset Management is pleased to be a Founding Participant in the Climate Engagement Canada program, and we look forward to driving the dialogue around climate-related risks and opportunities with Canadian issuers. We believe collaborative engagement with other like-minded investors is an effective way to motivate companies to implement strategies and take actions that consider the financial impacts of climate change, and to achieve a just transition to a net zero economy.”
  • Amit Prakash, Chief Investment Strategy Officer, Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) “The Climate Engagement Canada initiative is well positioned to provide an invaluable service through its collaborative engagement platform. As investor stewards we believe it is our responsibility to engage with investees to promote real world climate strategies and resilient business models.”
  • Rossitsa Stoyanova, Investment Management Corporation of Ontario (IMCO) Chief Investment Officer – “We are thrilled to be part of this critical initiative because we recognize that real action on climate change will require robust and meaningful dialogue with the Canadian financial community and with Canadian Corporations. At IMCO, we view Climate change as both a systemic investment risk and an opportunity. We consider the potential impacts of the transition to a low-carbon economy and the physical impacts of different climate outcomes with the objective of delivering long-term value to our clients.”
  • Fate Saghir, SVP, Head of Sustainability, Mackenzie Investments – “While global investment stewardship initiatives have been impactful, we believe Climate Engagement Canada will provide Canadians, our economy, and our industry with the local expertise and perspectives that we deserve. We are very much encouraged by this initiative and look forward to collaborating across our industry to build a sustainable future for all Canadians.”
  • Roger Beauchemin, President and CEO, Addenda Capital – “Since Addenda Capital is already participating in Climate Action 100+, we are truly excited to see its Canadian incarnation. We put engagement at the heart of our own stewardship activities, and the collaborative nature of CEC will only accelerate the pace toward a successful transition. In addition, today’s initiative highlights the fact that this transition will also need to remain focused on workers, businesses and communities across the country.”
  • Kristi Mitchem, CEO, BMO Global Asset Management – “The launch of Climate Engagement Canada is an important step towards creating a low carbon economy. Earlier this year, BMO announced its climate ambition to be its clients’ lead partner in the transition to a net zero world. At BMO GAM, active engagement with our investee companies is an important tool in working towards our own net zero commitments and we look forward to furthering this through collaborative shareholder engagement in the Canadian market.”
  • Michael Kelly, Chief Legal & Corporate Affairs Officer, OMERS – “Engaging with our portfolio companies is one of four key pillars of our sustainable investing strategy. Working with Climate Engagement Canada will help to amplify our voice and produce meaningful dialogue and impact for our engagement program. We are excited to be one of the founding partners of this initiative.”
  • Jamie Bonham, Director, Corporate Engagement, NEI Investments – “We are excited to be a part of the CEC collaboration, as we’ve always believed that corporate engagement is the best way to drive real change. And considering the scope of the challenge ahead of all of us, collaboration makes particular sense in the Canadian context. CEC’s work will help investors amplify their impacts and bring much-needed clarity to help companies focus their strategic priorities.”
  • Sarah Takaki, Senior Director, Sustainable Investing, Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) – “HOOPP is pleased to be a founding participant of Climate Engagement Canada, and to join with other institutional investors as a unified voice to engage companies and work together on climate action.”
  • Priti Shokeen, PhD, Vice President & Director, ESG Research & Engagement at TD Asset Management Inc. “TD Asset Management is proud to be a founding supporter of Climate Engagement Canada. We consider climate risk to be a fundamental issue facing Canadian companies across sectors and regions, and as such we are pleased to be joining this made in Canada initiative focusing on climate transition plans.”
  • Christian Felx, Head of Responsible Investment, Desjardins Global Asset Management – “Inspiring and influencing is an important part of Desjardins Global Asset Management’s approach, and educating companies, members, clients, and communities about responsible investment is among its priorities. Shareholder engagement is therefore an integral part of our strategy. Initiatives like the CEC are essential to move the market rapidly to face the challenges of climate change. Desjardins Global Asset Management is proud to support the CEC and to work with other financial institutions to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy.” 

More Information

  • Learn more about Climate Engagement Canada (CEC) here.
  • Learn about the Responsible Investment Association (RIA) here.
  • Learn about the Shareholder Association for Research & Education (SHARE) here.
  • Learn about Ceres here.
  • Learn about the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) here.

 



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