Volunteers sorting food at The Mustard Seed – Food Security Distribution Centre

Vancity’s commitment to climate action

January 2021

The COVID emergency has revealed and worsened many deep inequities that exist in our society. This underscores how a successful response to a global crisis requires rethinking our approach to the economy.

As countries around the world are fighting the pandemic and considering a recovery, a wider and more destructive emergency is building – one that is both human and environmental. Meeting the challenge of the climate crisis will require a transition to the clean and fair economy that Canadians want: an economy that creates prosperity, fights climate change, and leaves no one behind.

With the full endorsement of Vancity’s Board and Executive Leadership Team, Vancity is committing to do our part to help make this happen.

Getting the Climate Transition Right

A successful climate transition requires putting the needs of people and planet first, building community resilience by strengthening local economies, and addressing systemic inequities. And this means doing things differently – as people, as communities, and as societies.

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Why Vancity?

Few in Canada understand this better than Vancity. For 75 years we’ve used the tools of finance to reduce economic inequity, broaden access to capital, and build more resilient communities. And for several decades, we've been a leader in the Canadian financial sector, making our operations carbon-neutral, offering environmentally conscious products and socially responsible investment options, transparently reporting on environmental impacts, and supporting sustainability and climate action at the local level.

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Empowering our Members to be a Force for Change

Achieving these commitments will depend on the actions of our members, working together to chart a new common course. Vancity’s primary role will be to enable and empower change through our products, services, resources and influence. By achieving these commitments, we will enable our members to take the actions they need and want to take as part of the climate transition, and will empower our members to be part of a bigger solution.

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Navigating in Uncharted Territory

In making these commitments, we are entering uncharted territory – again. When we pledged in 2005 to become climate neutral in our facilities and operations, we didn’t have all the details worked out on how we would do it. But we worked transparently to plan out how we get there, and in the process became the first North American based financial institution to achieve this goal.

We approach our new commitments in the same spirit. In the coming months, we will release the roadmap to meeting our commitments, and the targets for measuring and assessing our progress. We will continue to update members and the public as both planning and execution unfold and evolve. And we will be transparent about all of it, evaluating and reporting publicly.

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Our commitments

Five years after the Paris Agreement, progress has been insufficient. Stronger action is needed now. Vancity is stepping up to the plate with the following commitments:

Net-zero by 2040

Our ambition is to make Vancity net-zero by 2040 across all our mortgages and loans. That means the carbon emitted from anything we finance will be eliminated or significantly reduced, with any remaining emissions being brought to net-zero. We’ll start this work by setting our first target for 2025.

Financing an equitable climate transition

Unaddressed, climate change – like the pandemic – will change how we work and live, and will drive further inequality. We will focus our work in financial and social inclusion to provide banking and other solutions to help people who are affected by the climate emergency, as well as those seeking support in transitioning to cleaner and more sustainable living.

Investing in a better future

We will help our members invest for the future we need by offering only responsible investment options that can demonstrate the integrity of their Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) screening and stewardship process.

Be transparent and accountable

We will encourage change within the financial services sector by accurately measuring and openly reporting on how our own actions are improving the well-being of people, communities and the environment. We aim to continue implementing, testing, and helping improve emerging international standards for climate and impact reporting.

Walk the talk in all we do

We will live our values in our daily decision-making in order to serve the diverse needs of our members, staff, and communities. We will do our part across our operations to contribute to a just climate transition.

Jan O’Brien

In the wake of the COVID pandemic, it’s clear our lives will change, but will it be for the better? Or will we fail to address the looming climate emergency and allow inequality to deepen by reviving an economy that has been maximizing profit at the cost of both the planet and the people who live on it?