Desjardins adopts policy to combat climate change

New policies at the financial co-op include direct investment in renewables and reducing the carbon footprint of its assets

Canadian financial co-operative Desjardins Group announced a series of measures to help it tackle climate change, with a new set of targets set to go into its team annual report from this year onwards.

With assets of CAD $276.3bn, Desjardins is the country’s largest co-operative financial group and the largest association of credit unions in North America.

“As a financial co-operative, we can lead by example and encourage the transition to a greener economy,” said Guy Cormier, president and chief executive.

“That’s why Desjardins has decided to go carbon neutral, invest in renewable energy projects and reduce the carbon footprint of our publicly traded portfolio. And for all of our other activities, we will add authorisation criteria to encourage respect for the environment and communities in finance.”

The new measures will see Desjardins focus on four main actions:

  • purchasing carbon credits to offset its greenhouse gas emissions
  • direct investment in renewables via its own assets in energy infrastructure
  • ensuring that by 2020, the carbon footprint of its own assets invested in publicly traded securities is 25% less than the average greenhouse gas emissions of the companies that make up the stock and bond market indices
  • applying new authorisation criteria on business decisions that take environmental, social and governance factors into consideration.

Before making a business decisions the Group pledges to examine whether the partner has consulted with the affected communities, including First Nations communities, has a comprehensive plan to substantially reduce their carbon footprint and manage the risks posed by climate change, and has compensation and workplace health and safety policies in place.

“If we want the energy transition to succeed, it has to be a group effort. Now, more than ever, the financial industry needs to come together and set an example, by making responsible use of the money under our control,” added Mr Cormier.

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