Montreal, January 27, 2020 - Desjardins Group is making progress in its commitment to combat and adapt to climate change. In 2019, in addition to continuing the initiatives launched in 2018, Desjardins:
- Became the first Canadian financial institution to sign the Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB). The principles, which were signed in New York, constitute a formal commitment to the United Nations.
- Continued to put greater emphasis on environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria in its investment management processes and in its savings, financing, real estate management and responsible procurement offers.
- Set a new goal to bring its own greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions down 20% from 2018 by the year 2024.
- Moved up the timeline for installing 200 electric vehicle charging stations across Quebec and eastern Ontario.
"Desjardins and its nearly 50,000 employees and millions of members and clients can make a real difference in how we fight and adapt to climate change. We need to change our habits and encourage others to follow suit. Our commitment to fast-track the inclusion of ESG criteria can be seen in everything we do and it's going to grow moving forward," said Guy Cormier, President and Chief Executive Officer of Desjardins Group.
Remaining carbon neutral
Since 2017, Desjardins has remained carbon neutral by purchasing carbon credits to offset greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In 2019, the organization chose to support the following carbon capture and emission reduction initiatives to offset GHG emissions for 2018:
- Great Bear Forest Carbon Project (B.C.): A collaborative initiative by eight Coastal First Nations, the Government of British Columbia, environmental groups and local forest companies for the conservation and improved management of the largest intact temperate rainforest remaining in the world.
- Niagara Escarpment Forest Carbon Project (Ontario): A project that promotes and maintains the function and diversity of ecosystems along the Niagara escarpment.
- Les serres de Productions Horticoles Demers (Quebec): Greenhouses that have reduced carbon emissions by setting up heating systems that use 100% renewable energy, such as forest biomass residue or biogas from landfill sites.
- Les serres coopératives de Guyenne (Quebec): Greenhouses that have reduced carbon emissions by converting an oil heating system to 100% renewable energy produced using forest biomass residue.
- Terreau Biogaz inc. (Quebec): A company that recovers and treats biogas from landfill waste to feed Hydro Québec's green energy distribution network.
Desjardins also allocated additional financial support equivalent to 1% of its carbon footprint to Coop FA's Bourse du carbone Scol'ERE, a school-based program that teaches young people and their families about the importance of eco-citizenship. Desjardins's contribution has allowed the program to be rolled out more quickly, in cooperation with community partners.
Between now and 2024, Desjardins will continue to reduce GHG emissions by prioritizing programs to optimize business travel, reduce paper consumption and improve energy efficiency in its buildings.
Investing in renewables
Desjardins continues to be a Canadian leader in renewable energy infrastructure. As of September 30, 2019, Desjardins had invested $1.23 billion, or almost 46% of its total infrastructure investments, in the sector.
The organization recently confirmed its development support of the renewable natural gas sector by working with other partners to support the creation of Agri-Énergie Warwick, the first farming cooperative in Quebec entirely dedicated to producing renewable energy.
Reducing the carbon footprint of our own investments
Desjardins has promised that by 2020, the carbon footprint of its own assets invested in publicly traded securities will be 25% less than the average greenhouse gas emissions of the companies that make up the stock and bond market indices. By September 30, 2019, the cooperative group had already reduced that footprint by 15% compared to the benchmark indices.
"We're going to continue to be an engaged shareholder. This approach is instrumental in encouraging the companies we invest in to integrate climate risk and improve their ESG practices," Cormier added.
Commitments to speed up the integration of ESG criteria
By signing the Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB) and the Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI) in 2019, Desjardins has committed to speeding up the integration of ESG criteria into all its operations in order to actively contribute to developing a more responsible and more sustainable economy.
Recently, Desjardins also co-signed a United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP-FI) letter supporting the recommendations of an expert panel on sustainable finance. The panel had been mandated by the federal government to identify the key drivers that would support Canada's transition to a low-carbon economy.
Report on the installation of electric charging stations
In March 2017, Desjardins announced the installation of 200 electric charging stations (including 60 quick charge stations) across Quebec and eastern Ontario by 2021, in partnership with Hydro-Québec and AddÉnergie. So far, 184 charging stations have been installed and the rest will be installed in 2020, one year ahead of schedule.
In August of this year, Desjardins partnered with Hydro-Québec again to launch the first vehicle-charging superstation at Complexe Desjardins. With four 50-kilowatt charging stations, the superstation serves a user base in the heart of downtown Montreal.