Study reveals Canadian co-op sector’s work on climate change disclosure

All the organisations surveyed made some form of disclosure but campaigners say there is room for improvement

A new report has highlighted the commitment of Canadian co-operatives and credit unions in disclosing their impact and efforts on climate change.

Commissioned and released by The Co-operators insurance mutual, the report summarises climate disclosures made by 10 of the largest co-operative organisations in Canada.

It is hoped the report will serve as an initial benchmark for co-ops to consider how their climate change strategies can evolve to address the shift to a low-carbon economy and adapt to risks associated with climate change.

The Review of Climate-Related Disclosures by Canadian Co-operatives and Credit Unions follows a study of 75 publicly traded companies released by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada in June.

Both studies were conducted by Zizzo Strategy, a consulting firm that specialises in identifying, managing and reporting on climate-related risks and opportunities. Similar methodologies to assess the extent and nature of climate disclosures were applied in both studies; however, because co-operatives’ mandatory reporting requirements are more limited, their voluntary disclosures were considered in order to build a composite picture.

“This study shows that co-operatives and credit unions in Canada are beginning to include climate-related information in their reporting, but there is a gap between what is being recommended by bodies like the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure and what organisations are disclosing,” said Laura Zizzo, founder and CEO of Zizzo Strategy.

“There is room for improvement and a need for greater context, comparability and consistency in reporting. It is hoped that this study will act as a starting point, providing a relevant benchmark regarding the integration of climate change into organisations’ public reporting and informing further conversations on this topic going forward.”

The review focused on five categories: governance, strategy, risk management, metrics and targets, and corporate or investor engagement. Highlights of the findings include:

  • 100% of the co-operative organisations considered made some form of climate change-related public disclosure
  • 50% disclosed proactive business strategies to deal with the transition to a low-carbon economy and climate-resilient future
  • Only 20% discussed physical climate-related risks, and the same number of organizations discussed climate-related regulatory and litigation risks
  • 100% revealed their activities aimed at managing or reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while 60% disclosed emissions data and 50% disclosed emission reduction targets and measured their progress against them.

“Climate change disclosure can help organisations improve their climate-risk management capacity, develop resiliency and promote sustainability,” said Bruce West, executive vice-president, finance and chief financial officer of The Co-operators. “It is our hope that the information in this report will be used by co-operatives and other businesses to assess their own practices and consider how they can be improved in the future.”

The research was informed in part by recommendations of the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, which provides guidance on what and how businesses should be managing and disclosing their climate risks and opportunities.