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Canada’s Vancity divests pipeline firm Enbridge over ESG concerns

Decision follows damning report from US regulators

Vancity, the Canadian credit union with C$16.1bn (€12.9bn) in assets, has divested Calgary-based pipeline operator Enbridge following a 2010 spill in Michigan.
“Enbridge no longer meets Vancity Investment Management’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria for its socially responsible investments,” the 479,500-member Vancouver-based group said.
The decision is based on a damning report from the US National Transportation Safety Board report on the incident which resulted in a fine of a US$3.7m announced last month. The NTSB spoke of “pervasive organizational failures” at Enbridge.
Vancity Investment Management, which is a signatory to the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment, has now sold its c.C$2.5m Enbridge holdings in the IA Clarington Inhance SRI funds it manages.
IA Clarington Investments is the Toronto-based mutual funds firm with more than C$11.2bn in assets.
“When you purchase the IA Clarington Inhance SRI funds, you are also investing in a disciplined process that considers ESG factors and financial analysis,” said Vancity Chief Executive Tamara Vrooman.The move follows concerns from Vancity members over Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline project in British Columbia and Alberta – which has also been the subject of a six-year engagement campaign from fellow Canadian investor NEI Investments. An NEI resolution at Enbridge’s AGM in May his year, calling for a report on the impact of First Nations opposition, gained almost 29% support.
In May Vancity said it had been engaging with Enbridge on the project but would have to “re-evaluate” its position on Enbridge if the project proceeds.
Vancity is a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, the sustainable banking network, and is a participant in the Integrated Reporting Pilot Program.
Toronto’s Globe and Mail reported that NEI is considering whether to stick with Enbridge. “We are kind of running out of rope here on Enbridge,” it quoted Bob Walker, NEI’s vice president of sustainability, as saying. He added things “seem to be going from bad to worse.”

Earlier this month, the Canadian federal government said an environmental assessment of the Northern Gateway must be completed by the end of next year.
Vancity statement