Vancity’s climate disclosures
Achieving or exceeding the goals of the Paris Agreement will require drastically reducing emissions across all facets of our daily lives and across the economy – in manufacturing, resource extraction, transportation, agriculture, construction, and many other sectors. These activities, as well as initiatives that remove emissions, all depend on the financing, investment, and underwriting provided by financial institutions.
As a sector, financial institutions decide which organizations, initiatives and activities receive funds through loans and investments – and this makes them critical in the global fight against the climate crisis and the transition towards a low-carbon economy.
To create effective net zero strategies and to develop innovative climate related financial products, it’s imperative that financial institutions credibly measure and transparently disclose the emissions enabled by their financing and investment, and underwriting.
Vancity’s history on sustainability reporting
As a member-owned financial cooperative, Vancity has long been a Canadian leader in disclosure and transparency. Since 1992, we’ve used industry-leading standards to measure and annually disclose our impact on members, staff, community, and the environment. In 2005 we became the first financial institution in North America to win a Ceres-ACCA North American Sustainability Reporting Award for our environmental, social and financial reporting, and we continue to be recognized for our leading reporting practices.
But recognizing the need to account for, and act on, our financed emissions means taking our reporting to a whole new level. For us, this is as much about transparency and accountability as it is about impact.
In early 2021 we committed to bring our lending portfolio to net-zero (our operations have been carbon-neutral since 2008, and we do not directly invest in the oil and gas industry). Achieving this commitment requires measuring our financed emissions, setting interim targets, measuring progress against them, all while establishing actions we will take to get us -- and our members – to Net Zero by 2040. Our commitment to transparency requires reporting our progress, along with what we are learning along the way.
Setting baselines to plan and measure progress
To credibly measure and track our financed emissions, we’ve been working with the Partnership for Climate Accounting Financials (PCAF). Vancity was the first Canadian financial institution to join PCAF as a working group member to contribute to the development of what’s now the global GHG accounting and reporting standard for financed emissions. Members of PCAF represent CAD$50 Trillion from financial institutions globally.
Using the approach developed by PCAF we are working on setting baseline emissions by asset class. These baselines, together with the underlying data and insights generated, will enable us to set targets and understand where we need to focus efforts to reduce emissions together with our members and partners, and to measure and report on our progress.
Through this work we’re hoping to demonstrate to our peers and other organizations the types and methods disclosure we must work towards. At the same time, as one of the few financial cooperatives participating in these initiatives, we’re also working to make sure that the solutions and standards we help develop work for our fellow credit unions.
Vancity’s climate disclosures
We are committed to posting our climate disclosures annually. We’ll work to continually improve the scope, quality, accuracy and transparency of our disclosures, and to set an industry-leading example for Canada’s financial institutions.
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.
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?