The Vancouver City Savings Credit Union is promising to bring its entire mortgage and loan portfolio to net-zero by 2040, 10 years ahead of the target set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as part of a five-part plan aimed at building climate action into the financial co-op’s business strategy.
“The five commitments focus on building community resilience by strengthening local economies and addressing systemic inequities to support a just climate transition,” Vancity says in a January 7 release.
“Social and environmental sustainability have long been at the centre of Vancity’s business model, going back to its founding as a credit union,” the release adds. Now, “these commitments build on many years of climate action, going further to help build a future that is clean and fair for everyone.”
The net-zero target “means the carbon emitted from anything we finance will be eliminated or significantly reduced, with any remaining emissions being brought to net-zero,” the release explains—and unlike the federal government in its newly-released climate accountability act, Vancity is setting its first carbon reduction target for 2025, not 2030.
The co-op is also promising to:
• Finance an “equitable climate transition” by focusing its financing on inclusion for people affected by the climate emergency, or looking for help making the shift to more sustainable living;
• Limit investment opportunities for members to options that “can demonstrate the integrity of their Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) screening and stewardship process”;
• Accurately measure and transparently report progress toward the net-zero goal;
• “Walk the talk in all we do”, with daily decisions that contribute to a just transition.
“Environmental devastation and inequality are two sides of the same global climate emergency,” said Vancity Board Chair Jan O’Brien. “These ambitious climate commitments are crucial to Vancity’s impact and the long-term success of its communities. They build on years of work, and we look forward to Vancity engaging the collective effort of its half a million members to do our part to address the crisis and make sure no one is left behind in a climate transition.”
“The financial sector must play a central role supporting the shift to a low-carbon economy that is clean and fair for everyone,” said Interim President and CEO Christine Bergeron. “It won’t be easy to meet our commitments, but the days of business as usual are over. We must all do more if we want to address the urgent challenge that’s taking place around us.”
The release says Vancity was the first financial institution to make all its internal operations carbon-neutral in 2008, and home to the country’s first socially responsible investment fund in 1986.