Montreal, December 10, 2018 - A year ago, Desjardins announced measures to become proactive in the fight against climate change. The initiatives centred on reducing its carbon footprint, investing in renewable energy projects, applying ESG criteria to promote environmentally and community-friendly financing, and giving added support to members and clients who are also adopting greener practices.
Two more measures have since been announced: the installation of 200 electric charging stations across Quebec and eastern Ontario by 2021 and the expansion of the Desjardins line of responsible investment products.
"Desjardins Group is determined to tackle the issue of climate change head on. For 25 years, we have been taking action to promote a greener economy and contribute to the socioeconomic development of communities. We've gone one step further with the initiatives we announced over the past year. I am proud of these commitments and the efforts we are making to achieve them," said the president and Chief Executive Officer of Desjardins Group, Guy Cormier.
Desjardins gives us an update on its progress, one year after putting those practices into place.
Going carbon neutral
In an effort to reduce its carbon footprint, Desjardins began purchasing carbon credits to offset the greenhouse gas emissions from some of its larger events. In 2017, Desjardins took that initiative one step further, deciding to go totally carbon neutral: the organization selected several projects to offset its carbon footprint of 45,973 tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of 11,500 cars covering 20,000 kilometers per year.
These are projects selected on the basis of objective criteria aimed at promoting:
- The management and conservation of large forests as carbon sinks including the leadership of some First Nations
- Energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies
- Awareness and education about eco-citizenship
Since 2012, Desjardins has granted more than $600,000 to the Bourse du carbone Scol'ERE, an educational program that encourages young people and their families to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions through the program's educational carbon credits.
Investing in renewables
In 2018, Desjardins invested $1.04 billion, or 45% of its total infrastructure investments, in renewable energy. When compared to other major investors, its aggregate position makes Desjardins a Canadian leader in renewables investments. Desjardins intends to maintain that position.
Incorporating ESG criteria into business decisions
Desjardins is progressively incorporating ESG criteria into its business decisions. It has adopted several measures to promote sound environmentally and community-friendly financing:
- An ESG Steering Committee will analyze the environmental, social and governance issues and advise senior management and the Desjardins board of directors; the committee is supported by a team of experts
- Besides new analytical tools and training, Desjardins launched a community of practice for professionals to study ESG topics in business decisions and educate internal teams
- Climate risk is now part of Desjardins Group's overall all risk analysis and financial disclosure, further to the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure issued under the auspices of the G20 Financial Stability Board
Installing electric charging stations
Last March, Desjardins announced the installation of 200 electric charging stations across Quebec and eastern Ontario by 2021, in partnership with Hydro-Québec and AddÉnergie.
By the end of 2018, 40 stations will have been installed in four Quebec regions: Quebec City, Côte-Nord, Charlevoix and Saguenay-Lac Saint-Jean.
Consult the maps below for the locations of current and future stations.
Charging stations for electric cars - 2018
Charging stations for electric cars - 2019
Enhancing support for members
Desjardins has a range of financial products that allow clients to reduce their carbon footprint. Total funds and portfolios in responsible investment reached $ 4 billion. Desjardins is progressively expanding its offer to include financing, insurance and investment products. Last September, it doubled its range of responsible investment products.
New: Desjardins bans the use of certain single-use plastics
Starting January 1, 2019, there will be a Desjardins-wide ban on the purchase of certain disposable plastic products (i.e., water bottles, cups, stir sticks and straws), representing more than 100,000 bottles per year. Caisse board chairs and general managers showed overwhelming support for this initiative.
"Desjardins continues to work towards a low-carbon economy. An organization-wide ban on single-use plastics is an easy and practical way to reduce our carbon footprint. We encourage businesses and citizens to join in and make a difference," said Guy Cormier.