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Canadian Banks Face Scrutiny Over Sustainability Claims

Sustainable Finance | Jan 12, 2024

L4PC Targets Canada's 5 Big Banks.  Files Compliant with Regulators About Potential Misleading Sustainability Claims

Canada's big five banks - RBC, TD, BMO, CIBC, and Scotiabank - have come under scrutiny for their sustainable finance practices. A climate advocacy group, Investors for Paris Compliance (I4PC), has filed a complaint with securities regulators, raising concerns about potentially misleading claims and the effectiveness of these banks' sustainability efforts.

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  • I4PC alleges that the banks are using the term "sustainable finance" too broadly without backing up their claims with substantial data. This lack of clarity and evidence raises questions about the authenticity of their commitments to sustainability.
  • The complaint highlights that some of the deals labeled as sustainable were with oil and gas companies, whose emissions are on the rise. This includes sustainable finance deals with Enbridge Inc., Gibson Energy, and Occidental Petroleum, involving major banks like RBC, CIBC, Scotiabank, BMO, and TD Bank.
  • I4PC urges regulators to investigate the adequacy and accuracy of the banks' disclosures regarding sustainable finance. They also call for mandatory disclosure of the emissions impacts of their sustainable finance business or clarification on areas where such impacts cannot be disclosed.

CBA Response

The Canadian Bankers Association, representing the banks, asserts that Canadian banks adhere to North American market standards for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) disclosure.

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They emphasize compliance with applicable rules and regulations and ongoing collaboration with industry and regulators to enhance sustainability reporting standards.

Outlook

Investors are increasingly vigilant about the authenticity of ESG claims, and financial institutions are under pressure to provide clear, measurable outcomes for their sustainability initiatives. The outcome of this complaint could set a precedent for how sustainable finance is approached and regulated in Canada and potentially influence global practices in the banking sector.


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