Climate campaigners and analysts were pressing Export Development Canada (EDC) for faster, better results yesterday, after the federal agency released a 10-page net-zero roadmap that pledges to reduce its financial support to a half-dozen high-emitting sectors by 40% from 2018 levels by 2023.
The document stresses the need for EDC “to act with authority, transparency, and accountability in Canada’s efforts to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050”. It commits to “further emissions reductions through science-based, sectoral emission intensity targets” through 2030, and promises to publish those goals along with a sustainable finance target by July 1, 2022.
“As Canada works towards an inclusive and sustainable recovery, EDC has an important role to play in helping Canadian businesses take full advantage of opportunities to scale up and access international markets, while prioritizing Canada’s climate goals in all of its decisions,” Trade Minister Mary Ng said in a release. “The steps EDC has outlined to reach net-zero will help keep our industries competitive and contribute to a more sustainable future for generations.”
“EDC has an important role to play as a financial Crown corporation in promoting and supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy,” added EDC Senior VP Justine Hendricks. “Regardless of where a Canadian company is in their ESG [Environment, Social and Governance] planning and performance, we are here to support them.”
The release also cites Hendricks as EDC’s “inaugural Chief Sustainability Officer”.
Organizations that have been following EDC’s lavish backing for international oil and gas projects were decidedly underwhelmed.
“The agency is the largest fossil fuel financier out of G20 country export credit agencies, with an average of C$2.9 billion a year in oil and gas support from 2018-2020,” stated a joint release yesterday by Above Ground, Environmental Defence Canada, and Oil Change International. “Ending all support for fossil fuels, without any loopholes, is a critical step that EDC must take now.”
The groups also call on EDC to align all its activities, including the downstream emissions from the projects it finances, with Canada’s commitments under the Paris climate agreement and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“Net-zero is not zero if it doesn’t come with a plan to end EDC’s finance for oil and gas,” said Bronwen Tucker, Oil Change’s Edmonton-based public finance research analyst. “By allowing continued support for oil and gas extraction and infrastructure, EDC is falling short of Canada’s climate commitments and the actions of our international peers.”
Julia Levin, senior climate and energy program manager at Environmental Defence, said the new policy flies in the face of the International Energy Agency’s call last May for an immediate end to new oil, gas, or coal projects. “It appears that EDC sees its role as assisting oil and gas companies, rather than helping Canadian businesses succeed in a renewable energy future,” she said.
After seeing the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union commit over the last six months to end their public finance for fossil fuels, she added, “it is past time for Canada to follow suit.”
But “under EDC’s new plan, the agency could continue providing billions of dollars in support for pipelines like Trans Mountain and Coastal GasLink, as well as LNG terminals and other highly problematic infrastructure,” said Above Ground Interim Director Karen Hamilton.