National Bank of Canada (the “Bank”) today released its 2020 Report on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Advances and revealed some measures it is adopting to fight climate change. The report is intended for all Bank stakeholders. It outlines the Bank's commitments and achievements in sustainable development as well as its key performance indicators. It is available in the Social Responsibility section of nbc.ca.
Net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with interim targets by 2050
The Bank today announced a target to achieve net-zero GHG emissions for its operating and financing activities by 2050. Numerous uncertainties persist as to the best way to achieve this objective, given ongoing methodological developments across the country and around the world. To address these uncertainties and ensure continued progress, the Bank will set interim reduction targets on the way to the 2050 goal and maintain constructive dialogue on these issues with its clients and suppliers.
“Our commitment to major environmental, social and governance issues has remained strong in 2020. Our approach helps communities prosper and promotes our shared values by putting people first,” said Louis Vachon, President and Chief Executive Officer of National Bank of Canada. “Over the coming years, we will continue to improve our practices and support our clients and suppliers in their climate transition, with the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. Our interim targets will drive the process forward and help ensure this key goal is reached for the benefit of our planet.”
Interim target for reducing GHG emissions from operations under our control: reduction of 25% by the end of 2025, compared to 2019 levels
On September 25, 2020, the Bank announced an interim target for reducing GHG emissions from the operations of its business segments and subsidiaries. This science-based target aims to reduce GHG emissions by 25% by the end of 2025, compared to 2019 levels. This will help limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement.
The Bank has one of the lowest carbon footprints per dollar of revenue, per employee and per square metre in North America. This is largely due to its significant use of hydroelectricity and rigorous management of the office space required for its activities. The Bank will continue to focus on energy efficiency. One promising initiative involves a system that manages energy use in many of its branches remotely. LEED assessment system criteria are applied to many of the Bank's existing and planned buildings. The new head office currently under construction is designed to meet LEED Gold v4 criteria.
To meet the goal set for 2025, the Bank plans to minimize business travel and adopt a hybrid model that includes remote work, among other things.
In 2020, the Bank reduced the carbon footprint of its activities by 13% compared to 2019. This reduction was mainly due to the decrease in business travel resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bank achieved its 2020 carbon neutrality goals by purchasing Verified Carbon Units from Will Solutions. This B Corp-certified company adheres to the principles of a sharing economy to monetize the climate-related actions of Quebec SMEs to benefit community projects. The Bank has also purchased Verified Carbon Units from the Nature Conservancy of Canada as part of the Darkwoods Forest Carbon Project, one of the largest carbon projects in North America. The Bank has set the same carbon neutrality goals for 2021. Purchasing Verified Carbon Units is in line with the Bank's commitment to protect biodiversity and natural environments.
The 2021 report on advances related to the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) will be published soon. It will provide more detailed information on the above initiatives.
The Bank joins the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF)
The Bank has joined the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials, a global partnership of financial institutions that work together to develop an approach to assess and disclose the GHG emissions associated with their loans and investments.
The Bank already contributes to numerous international initiatives related to climate, including the CDP, the TCFD and the United Nations Principles for Responsible Banking, which the Bank became a founding signatory in 2019.
Commitment to protect the Arctic and position on coal
The Arctic is likely to become more attractive to investors over the
coming decades. Given the fragility of this environment, the Bank has
made an official commitment in line with its current practice not to
offer or grant new services related to oil and gas exploration,
exploitation or production in the Arctic. The Bank has also made an
official commitment in line with its current practice not to finance
new thermal coal mining and processing activities.