Climate change

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Contributing to environmental protection

Climate change

Climate change has a direct impact on the increase in insurance claims and, consequently, on the financial activities of our property and casualty insurance sector. It also has an impact on financing transactions for individuals and businesses that suffer its repercussions. We participate in a number of committees and conferences to better understand the effects of climate change and to develop more effective products and services. Here are a few of the measures we have taken to mitigate the impacts of climate change:

  • We have purchased reinsurance coverage in order to limit the financial consequences of major natural disasters.
  • All products or projects deemed to have high-impact social or environmental risks are subject to a risk analysis.
  • Our actuarial sector includes climate-change scenarios in its annual dynamic capital-adequacy testing.

We review the climate impact of Desjardins Group’s operations annually based on ISO 14064. Here is the accounting of our direct and indirect emissions during the last 3 years:

Greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in tonnes of CO2 equivalent1 2012 2011 2010
Direct emissions: car fleet and fuel 11,739 11,889 11,750
Indirect emissions: electricity and steam 2,004 1,719 2,585
Indirect emissions: rental vehicles, personal vehicles, air travel, leased offices (fuel) and paper2 23,598 21,388 22,600
Total GHG emissions 37,342 34,996 36,935
Emissions intensity (tonnes per employee) 0.86 0.81 0.87
Decrease in emissions intensity since 2008 9% 14% 8%
  1. Data for prior years was restated following updates to emission factors and certain corrections. Caisse data on paper consumption and business travel are based on a voluntary annual survey.
  2. GHG emissions associated with paper consumption are calculated using the Environmental Paper Network Paper Calculator.

The increase in emissions in 2012 is in large part attributable to the increase in office space leased outside Quebec, where GHG intensity from energy consumption is higher. The growth of our presence outside Quebec has also resulted in an increase in business travel, meaning more long-distance flights and kilometres driven with personal vehicles.

Energy consumption by source in 2012 Consumption (GJ) Proportion (%)
Direct energy:
  Natural gas
  Petroleum products


Indirect energy:


Total consumption 1,337,650 100

Energy consumption by source in 2012. Electricity: 85.7%. Petroleum products: 10.6%. Natural gas: 3.5%. Steam: 0.2%.

We have continued to work on our energy-efficiency program for the caisse network, Desjardins Group’s greatest energy consumer. The primary goal of this program is to:

  • provide Desjardins Group with an overall strategy for property management and energy optimization
  • promote the adoption of more efficient operating practices

We also maintained our partnership with the Association québécoise pour la maîtrise de l’énergie and 4 other major organizations to improve our energy efficiency.

At the end of 2012, 4 of our buildings were certified BOMA BESt (Building Environmental Standards), a voluntary national program designed to assess the environmental performance and management of existing buildings.

In addition, we are working to obtain LEED Gold certification for our new building under construction in Lévis, which will be finished in 2013. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification is an international standard used to rate the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.

Since 2009, our automobile policy for managers has included incentives designed to reduce fuel consumption within our car fleet. We set a target to reduce fuel consumption by 10% over 3 years, with 2008 as the base year. In order to reach this goal, we created a series of measures:

  • Credits awarded for driving vehicles with low fuel consumption
  • Penalties imposed for driving vehicles with high fuel consumption
  • A ban on remote car starters

The funds generated by the penalties are used to promote our alternative transportation program. In 2012, $100,825 was allocated to the program.

In addition, the maximum fuel consumption rate for vehicles in our fleet is now 9.4 litres/100 km, a reduction of 7.0% from 2009.

Tool to help managers

Managers have been given a checklist of things they can do to limit vehicle pollution and reduce their environmental footprint. Starting in 2013, we’ll be holding more specific discussions about reducing our carbon footprint and incentives to introduce.

All Desjardins Group employees can participate in our alternative transportation program, A New Route for Your Commute, which promotes:

  • opting for environmentally friendly transportation methods, such as carpooling and public transit
  • reducing business travel

Here are some of the initiatives we’ve launched to encourage Desjardins employees to adopt alternative transportation habits:

Active transportation and public transit
  • 460 discount codes handed out to BIXI users (self-service bicycles), giving them 25% off their annual membership
  • 61 drivers given 3-month trial transit passes
  • 659 carpoolers signed up and more than 200 teams created
  • 105 carpool-only parking spaces added (pilot project in Lévis)
  • Guaranteed rides home in case of emergency
Business travel
  • Corporate subscription to Communauto (car-sharing service)
  • Promotion of the Desjardins shuttle
Communication, information, promotion
  • Ads taken out for the Semaine des transports collectifs et actifs (active and public transportation week) and In Town Without My Car! events
  • 4 videos promoting alternatives to solo car travel
  • Section dedicated to the alternative transportation program on the employee portal

Desjardins shuttle

Since the early 1990s, the Desjardins shuttle has been available to employees for travel between head office in Lévis and our offices in Montreal, morning and night, every weekday.

2012 results: 812 trips shuttled 15,416 employees to and from both locations. If each of these employees had made the trip using his or her own vehicle, close to 585 additional tonnes of greenhouse gases would have been released into the atmosphere.

How our members and clients conduct their financial transactions can also impact the environment, for instance opting for paper over electronic statements, or driving to a caisse instead of using Internet banking. A large number of our members and clients are already using new ways to conduct their transactions, but to reduce the environmental impact of these activities even further, we’ve implemented measures to encourage our members and clients to:

  • use direct deposit and other paperless services for routine transactions, like AccèsD Internet, telephone banking or our mobile app
  • sign up for electronic documents (statements, claims, etc.)
  • view documents online (property and casualty insurance policies, benefits statements)
  • open accounts online (property and casualty insurance)

Online statements for caisse members

Desjardins members and clients continued to sign up for online statements in 2012. The number of signups totalled 4.7 million as at December 31, 2012, an increase of 16%. We also saw a significant 16% decline in passbooks during the same period.

Our policyholders are plugged in

In the property and casualty insurance sector, our efforts to encourage clients to sign up for the No Paper initiative have been successful. At year-end 2012, 95,000 clients had opted to receive their insurance policies electronically rather than have them printed and mailed.

In addition, since May 30, 2011, all policyholders have been able to consult their property and casualty insurance documents as PDFs on AccèsD. In 2012, 213,000 clients opted to access to their documents online, an increase of 72% over 2011.

In the life and health insurance sector, group insurance plan members can submit their reimbursement claims online for vision care or services provided by physical therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, psychologists and osteopaths.

Test-drive hybrid and electric vehicles

Since September 2012, selected repair shops have been offering courtesy hybrid or electric cars to Desjardins policyholders when their vehicles are in for repair. This pilot project, a joint initiative between Desjardins and one of our major bodywork partners, encourages green behaviour and reduces the environmental footprint of driving.

Life cycle thinking

One of the sources Desjardins Group turns to for guidance on its environmental decisions and actions is its sustainable development policy.

We also strive to incorporate life cycle thinking3 into our business and management practices, which is why we have renewed our partnership with the Polytechnique Montréal International Life Cycle Chair for the next 5 years.

  1. Life cycle thinking involves looking at the environmental, economic and social considerations of a product or service for the duration of its lifecycle. Learn more about life cycle thinking.