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April 12, 2014

Canadian Investors Issue Climate Change Policy Statement
    by Robert Kropp

The Responsible Investment Association calls on the federal and provincial governments of Canada to develop policies that will encourage a transition to a low-carbon economy. -- Canada has more than its share of problems relating to climate change. The extraction of bitumen from oil sands in the province of Alberta has been described as "the most destructive project on Earth," leaking millions of gallons of contaminated water into the ground and emitting unusually high levels of greenhouse gases (GHGs). Because of oil sands development, Canada faced fines in 2012 for failing to reach its emissions reduction commitments under the Kyoto Protocol; instead, it chose to withdraw from the process entirely.

In 2012, a coalition of institutional investors organized by Ceres wrote to a trade group of 12 major oil sands producers in October, recommending the reduction of GHG emissions from oil sands extraction "to at least that of conventional oil production." But the investors also expressed skepticism that "these concerns can be adequately resolved while oil sands development continues on its present trajectory."

Also, TransCanada, the pipeline company headquartered in Canada, is seeking permission from the Obama administration for construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry crude oil from the oil sands to ports in the southern US. Facing widespread opposition from environmentalists and other advocates, the administration has yet to announce a final decision on whether to permit construction.

Fortunately, assets devoted to sustainable investment continue to grow in Canada, and this week the Responsible Investment Association (RIA) issued a Canadian Investor Statement on Climate Change Policy.

“In response to the severe threats posed by climate change, the Responsible Investment Association has put forward the a policy recommendation to the federal and provincial governments to encourage the transition to a low carbon economy,” the statement reads.

The RIA made the following recommendations:
1. Establish clear, meaningful greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.
2. Implement effective carbon pricing.
3. Put in place a clearly-articulated, comprehensive climate strategy.
4. Integrate climate risk considerations into government decision-making.
5. Create an enabling environment for climate-friendly investment.
6. Demonstrate Canadian climate policy leadership.

“We believe that investors can and should play an important role in addressing climate change
through investment decision-making and corporate engagement,” the RIA stated. However, “markets do not provide adequate incentives to shift investment toward less carbon-intensive activities, which would be in the long-term interests of investors and the economy as a whole.”

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