Canada’s NEI Investments calls on Trudeau government to support sustainable investment

New administration looks to revise sustainable energy strategy

Canadian asset manager NEI Investments has called on the government to introduce a series of measures to support investors with sustainability, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks to revise the Federal Sustainable Strategy and engage more broadly with the financial sector.

Speaking to Responsible Investor, Michelle de Cordova, Director of Corporate Engagement & Public Policy at Toronto-based NEI, said the scope of policy actions been taken by the new administration on sustainability issues was significant.

“There is a consultation on a federal climate change strategy, a consultation on an environmental assessment framework, a consultation on the reform of the national energy board,” she said.

“The government is also looking at renewing a variety of environmental laws changed by the last administration somewhat controversially in a budget bill without consultation.”

De Cordova said that as part of this process the government had been engaging in outreach with a number of diverse stakeholders, including the aboriginal community and the financial community.

One of the most significant consultations is Canada’s Federal Sustainable Development Strategy for 2016-2019 that outlines the government’s environmental priorities.

In a submission to the consultation, NEI argues that the specific role of investors in advancing sustainable development should be recognised and unlocked through enhanced corporate disclosure requirements, especially those on climate matters.NEI, which is co-owned by Desjardins Group and the Provincial Credit Union Centrals, is also calling for: green bond development; an acknowledgment of the role of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights; and a carbon price implemented across all Canadian jurisdictions.

Four of Canada’s nine provinces currently have a carbon price – Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

NEI highlights the need for a comprehensive Canadian sustainable development strategy identifying common goals across jurisdictional divides. Elaborating on this, de Cordova said the issue is complicated by the fact that Canada does not have a single securities regulator.

“Business is a provincial matter with each having a securities regulator,” she said. “They work together on policy but issues like company disclosure is not the same policy-wise in each province.”

She said while provinces could maintain the ability to legislate, the federal government could develop a framework for provinces to maintain around issues such as corporate disclosure for consistency across the country.

De Cordova also said NEI, in its consultation, had also highlighted the need for issuer information in publicly accessible databases with environmental data such as emissions and pollution. “We have tried to use them in investment practices but it is very difficult to pull everything together belonging to the same company,” she said. Link