Desjardins suspends oil pipes lending

The credit union association cited concern over the environmental impact of projects and is working to establish a global stance on the issue

Desjardins temporarily suspended lending for energy pipelines projects on 7 July due to concerns about the impact such projects might have on the environment.

The largest association of credit unions in North America, Desjardins Group said it had no intention of pulling out of current financing or investment activities but it was taking time to define its position. The group is still committed to a CAD $145m loan for Kinder Morgan Canada Ltd’s pipeline.

According to a spokesman, Desjardins wants to ensure that “its business practices, its co-operative values and its position in regard to social responsibility and sustainable development are all aligned”.

The move comes after Desjardins’ president and chief executive, Guy Cormier, asked the teams involved to work on establishing a global position for all of Desjardins’ financing and investment activities, based on its principles of responsible investing.

“We are still in the process of defining our final position on this issue and a decision is likely to be taken by this fall,” said the spokesman.

Responding to Desjardins’ moratorium on pipeline financing, Greenpeace Canada Climate and Energy campaigner Patrick Bonin, said: “This decision shows that astute financial institutions are becoming increasingly wary of financing fossil fuel projects. Tar sands pipelines pose major risks, whether you are concerned about profits, human rights, the environment, or all three. Desjardins has made the right decision by announcing a moratorium on investments in and financing of oil pipelines, and we look forward to it becoming permanent.”

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Greenpeace also called on Desjardins to sell its existing CAD$145m stake in the USD$5.5bn credit facility Kinder Morgan obtained to fund the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.

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