Our commitments to the fight against climate change

Our commitments to the fight against climate change

Climate change is a challenge for the entire planet. It has a major impact on the environment, society and the economy. At Desjardins, sustainability is in our DNA, and our number one priority in terms of the environment is to take action on climate change.

At the end of 2017, we announced the implementation of concrete measures that will enable us to play a proactive role in the fight against climate change.

Through these commitments, in addition to supporting the energy transition, we will help businesses adopt environmental, social and governance best practices.

We also want to help our individual members and clients by offering them environmentally friendly financial products and services that address their desire to do their part and contribute to an energy transition that's fair for everyone.

"As a financial cooperative, we can lead by example and encourage the transition to clean energy," said Guy Cormier, President and CEO of Desjardins Group. "That's why Desjardins has decided to go carbon neutral, invest in renewable energy projects and reduce the carbon footprint of our publicly traded portfolio. And for all of our other activities, we will add authorization criteria to encourage respect for the environment and communities in finance."

Many of our practices will be implemented across our organization to support this transition and affirm our leadership:

  1. Since 2017, we've been purchasing quality and verified carbon credits to offset our greenhouse gas emissions.
  2. We also focus on renewables when directly investing our own assets in energy infrastructure. The Desjardins Group Pension Plan made the same commitment.
  3. By the end of 2020, we're aiming for the carbon footprint of our own assets invested in the markets to be 25% less than the average greenhouse gas emissions of the companies that make up the stock and bond market indices.
  4. For all business decisions, we apply new authorization criteria that take environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk factors into consideration.
  5. We have committed to installing 200 electric vehicle charging stations across Quebec and Eastern Ontario by the end of 2021. This goal is on track to be reached as early as 2020.

A united stance for the financial industry

In 2019, we became the 1st financial institution in Canada to sign the United Nations' Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB). The same year, we signed the Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI). We've also been a signatory of the Principles for Responsible Investment since 2009.

These commitments will help us speed up the inclusion of ESG factors into our decisions and business practices and thereby contribute to developing a more responsible and sustainable economy.

In concrete terms, this means that before making a business decision, Desjardins Group teams can look at whether the partner:

  • has consulted with the affected communities, including First Nations communities
  • has a comprehensive plan to substantially reduce their carbon footprint and manage the risks posed by climate change
  • has compensation and workplace health and safety policies in place

These practices have been integrated into team objectives and are included in Desjardins Group's annual report. This is just one way that Desjardins is listening to its members and clients, who want to transition to a low-carbon economy.

At the end of 2019, 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.

These are Desjardins's values

As a financial cooperative, we believe that money should be at the service of human development. Desjardins is a pioneer in responsible investing and solidarity-based financing.

Since 1990, Desjardins has taken many concrete actions: from launching its first responsible investment mutual fund to adopting a sustainable development policy to joining the Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition in 2016.

Taking action for the environment

1990

The Desjardins Environment Fund is launched.

2005

A new sustainable development commitment policy is created, with climate change as the top environmental priority.

2009

The SocieTerra portfolios are launched.

2016

  • 3 new SocieTerra funds are launched, including the first green bond fund in Canada.
  • Desjardins joins Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition.

2017

Desjardins adopts responsible financing priorities, in line with the Paris Agreement.

2018

Desjardins SocieTerra's responsible investment offer is doubled.

2019

Desjardins signs the United Nations' Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB) and Principles for Sustainable Insurance (PSI).

2020

A fund promoting diversity and the professional advancement of women is launched.