CCL Canada Education Call
with Senator Rosa Galvez
Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Regarding S-243: The Climate-Aligned Finance Act
Watch our March education call with Senator Rosa Galvez and learn how the Climate-Aligned Finance Act will redirect financial flows toward a thriving and equitable planet and how you can help build the political will for the enactment of this policy.
Public money (tax dollars) cannot finance the transition to an equitable and thriving planet alone – it is an astronomical cost. The cost to attain the UN Paris Agreement Goals and the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 is estimated to be at least 3 trillion dollars a year globally.
The private sector must step in. We need government policies that will redirect financial flows away from fossil fuels in the private sector. Canada’s carbon pricing is one of those policies. We need to protect and improve it while at the same time supporting other policies that will redirect financial flows toward a thriving and equitable planet. Any policy that we support has to be evidence-based, reduce a significant amount of greenhouse gas pollution, not burden the taxpayer and have momentum.
In April 2021, New Zealand introduced a law that will force financial firms to assess not only their own investments but also to evaluate the companies to which they are lending money in terms of their environmental impact. It was passed into law in October 2021.
Another thing we do is stand behind the climate champions in Parliament. Thus, we are now getting behind Senator Rosa Galvez’s Private Member’s Bill S-243 The Climate-Aligned Finance Act. Akin to the New Zealand law, Bill S-243 would require financial institutions and Crown corporations to:
- develop action plans and targets;
- establish a duty of alignment with climate commitments for directors and officers of entities;
- require the appointment of a person with climate expertise to certain boards of directors;
- establish a capital adequacy requirement proportionate to the climate risks generated by financial institutions.
Copy of the slide show
Letter with over 80 organizations endorsed CAFA (March 2022) Environmental Defence
Text of Bill S-243
An Act to enact the Climate-Aligned Finance Act and to make related amendments to other Acts.
Briefings and Supporting Documents
White Paper: Aligning Canadian Finance with Climate Commitments
Comprehensive overview of the intersection between climate and finance in Canada and international best practices along with a set of recommendations for aligning Canada’s financial sector with climate commitments.
What We Heard: Consultations on Aligning Canadian Finance with Climate Commitments
Synthesis of the expert feedback provided by over 40 experts during several consultation sessions held between December 2021 and January 2022.
Organizations List: Who does CAFA apply to?
Table of organizations covered by CAFA with examples for each category.
CAFA Overview Presentation
A presentation explaining the rationale behind and key features of the Climate-Aligned Finance Act.
Articles and Interviews
Corporate Knights (February 15, 2023): Canada falling behind other countries on ESG investing rules: Report
National Observer (February 14, 2023): Canada’s financial sector urged to ‘take off the blinders’ and prioritize climate change
The Conversation (November 6, 2022): A Canadian senator aims to end the widespread financial backing of fossil fuels
National Observer (November 1, 2022): Do bank directors have a legal obligation to get real on climate?
The Hamilton Spectator (August 8, 2022): Sen. Rosa Galvez is crafting policy for transparency in financial sector
Canada Climate Law Initiative (June 9, 2022): Canada’s financial sector could face climate trouble, unless we implement a policy solution
National Observer (May 6, 2022): ‘Deep entanglement’ between fossil fuel companies and pension funds cause for concern
What on Earth, CBC Radio One (May 1, 2022): Interview with Laura Lynch on the Climate-Aligned Finance Act (starts at 43:22)
La Presse (April 13, 2022): Les banques doivent passer de la parole aux actes
National Observer (April 6, 2022): Government risks disaster by barely mentioning financial sector in climate plan
National Observer (April 5, 2022): Canada is once again shown up on climate finance
Le Devoir (March 31, 2022): Les grandes banques canadiennes ont augmenté leur aide aux énergies fossiles de 70% en 2021
Green Central Banking (March 28, 2022): Canadian bill would require climate capital requirements
The Energy Mix (March 25, 2022): New Senate Bill Targets Financial Institutions that ‘Fuel Climate Risk’
Le Devoir (March 25, 2022): Dépôt d’un projet de loi pour aligner la finance sur les engagements climatiques du Canada
Corporate Knights (March 24, 2022): ‘Any delay means risk’: Senator looks to speed up banks’ net-zero journey
Op-ed in the Hamilton Spectator (August 8, 2022): Sen. Rosa Galvez is crafting policy for transparency in financial sector
Op-ed in iPolitics (March 31, 2022): Government must own its role in an orderly climate transition
Op-ed in Le Soleil (March 26, 2022): Pour un secteur financier aligné sur le climat
Op-ed in the Hill Times (February 16, 2022): Aligning finances to the new climate reality: fix finance, fix the climate
Op-ed in iPolitics (June 30, 2021): Ready, set, go net zero! Now begins the race of our lives
For Further Information
Clerk of Petitions
Room 314-C, West Block
House of Commons
- Have people sign the petition at outreach events and/or carry a copy of it and ask friends and acquaintances to sign it.
- Once you have obtained 30 signatures, call your MP’s office
- Identify yourself as a constituent of his/her riding
- Ask if your MP if he/she would be willing to read our Parliamentary Petition on climate change in its entirety (excluding the signatories) in the House of Commons
- Print the petition on legal (8.5 x 14) or letter-size (8.5 x 11) paper.
- Make sure there are three lines for signatures on the first page.
- Make sure there is a line at the top of every signature page thereafter indicating that it is a parliamentary petition and its topic.
- Get at least 25 signatures on the petition – follow the instructions closely. We recommend getting 30 just to be safe.
- Once completed, copy it for your files if you wish, then bring the original file to your MP’s office to be read in Parliament.
Hand deliver or send the original copy of the petition to:
YOUR MP’S NAME
House of Commons
No stamp is required for Parliament in Ottawa.
If your MP will not read the petition, we can send it to other MPs who will. Follow up by asking when it will be read in Parliament, how it was received and a big thank you via snail mail, email and social media. Please inform us in your monthly Citizens’ Climate Lobby field report if your petition has been read aloud in the House of Commons. It is considered to be outreach. By informing the national office we can thank them on Twitter and Facebook.
Cabinet Ministers are not permitted to read petitions in the House of Commons as it would constitute a “conflict of interest”. Thus, if your MP is a cabinet Minister you should inform him/her about the petition and ask if he or she could suggest another MP from your province who might read the petition instead.
The paper CAFA petition is most likely the first step before an online version. We are testing language and how the House of Commons receives it. Take Home Message. If you know of groups that are interested in doing an online version, we should all coordinate carefully our time and resources, and we should be coordinating through Senator Galvez’s office, so they can know what is happening and advise as well.
The paper CAFA petition above may be the first step before an online version. We are testing language and how the House of Commons receives it.
If you know of groups that are interested in doing an online version, we should all coordinate carefully our time and resources. And, we should be coordinating through Senator Galvez’s office, so they can know what is happening, advise as well and connect groups together.
To our CCL Canada volunteers: We have an e-petition process for determining when and if we do petitions. And with over 40 groups across Canada, we move methodically together on our monthly calls to avoid crossing wires. Please be sure to attend our CCL Canada monthly catch-up calls to stay abreast of any developments. Crossing wires costs time and can be avoided by communication.
Rosa Galvez, originally from Peru, is one of Canada’s leading experts in pollution control and its effect on human health. She has a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering from McGill University and has been a professor at Université Laval à Québec since 1994, heading the Civil and Water Engineering Department from 2010 to 2016. She specializes in water and soil decontamination, waste management and residues, and environmental impact and risk assessment.
Throughout her career, she has been requested by private, governmental and community organisations to offer expert advice. She has also advised a number of international organisations including on Canada-US and Quebec-Vermont agreements regarding the protection of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. She also conducted an important study on the catastrophic oil spill at Lac-Mégantic.
Senator Galvez is a member of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec, the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering and Engineers Without Borders. Her research has led her around the world to countries such as France, Italy, Belgium, Japan and China.
Senator Galvez was appointed to the Senate on December 6, 2016, representing Québec (Bedford). She lives in Quebec with her partner, Luke, and has three children, Virginie, Lydia and Francisco.
Personal Website: https://rosagalvez.ca
Starting in 2024, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) will require federally regulated banks and insurance companies to start collecting information on their CO2 emissions and climate risks for annual disclosure beginning in 2025. Other federally regulated financial institutions will be required to start disclosing in 2026.
The new rules will require institutions to report full Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions in keeping with international climate reporting rules. OSFI says its rules will also be subject to new climate accounting standards to be released soon by the International Sustainability Standards Board.
They don’t compel banks and insurance companies to grapple with the extent of the risks.
In a brief before the new climate regulations were finalized, Environmental Defence, Ecojustice and Shift Action for Pension Wealth and Planet Health (three leading climate policy organizations) called on OSFI to require financial institutions to create “credible climate plans” for approval by the regulator. They also recommended that OSFI require institutions to set aside capital buffers (which would hit their bottom line) as protection against climate risks. OSFI rejected both suggestions.
Implementing their suggestions could force Canadian financial institutions to divest their fossil fuel company loans or refuse to insure oil and gas companies. But this would not likely create major financing difficulties for these companies (at least in the short term) since they could turn to foreign banks and insurance companies unaffected by Canadian rules.
Such a result would not rein in the fossil fuel industry or result in lower emissions.
For Canada, which has the world’s fourth-largest oil industry and sixth-largest gas sector, climate poses potentially huge risks to the country’s biggest financial institutions, which are all intricately involved in the fossil fuel industry.
One estimate puts potential losses to the oil and gas sector in Canada at US$100 billion as it adjusts to the transition to an economy with lower greenhouse gas emissions. Banks making loans to the sector could face a large share of these losses.
Looking at the economy as a whole, banks and insurance companies face additional potential losses from climate- and weather-related damage to businesses, homeowners, farmers and infrastructure as well as growing threats to human health.
De facto climate regulator
The expansion proposed by Environmental Defence, Ecojustice and Shift of the new climate regulations also would have represented a massive increase in OSFI’s regulatory power, essentially setting it up as a de facto climate regulator in Canada through the financial system.
OSFI’s mandate is to ensure that financial institutions abide by rules that ensure the safety and security of pension beneficiaries and the holders of bank deposits and insurance policies. This includes regular reviews of risk-management policies and practices and mandatory capital minimums based on factors such as business and mortgage risk.
OSFI focuses this mandate on short-term risks. While climate change does pose long-term risks to the fossil fuel industry, Canadian oil and gas assets have become exceedingly profitable in the short term. There are few immediate and significant climate-related risks to the banks that issue loans to the sector or companies that insure them (although there are other environmental risks, as shown by the recent oil sands leak at Imperial Oil).
However, increased regulation of the oil and gas industry could change the situation. The federal government has pledged to impose a cap on oil-and-gas industry emissions and is reviewing possible increases in the stringency of carbon-pricing mechanisms, rules that could raise the short-term transition risk for the industry. As well, new rules to eliminate methane leaks could increase climate liability, posing new insurance risks.
OSFI has indicated it could become more prescriptive over time, which is likely as the oil and gas industry itself comes under greater regulation and short-term climate risks become more apparent.
Eugene Ellmen is a former executive director of the Canadian Social Investment Organization (now Responsible Investment Association). He writes on sustainable business and finance.