June 1, 2022

Québec Net Positive and the Canada Climate Law Initiative are partnering to offer free presentations to SMEs’ boards of directors to help them accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy

1 June 2022, Montréal – Québec Net Positive and the Canada Climate Law Initiative (CCLI) are pleased to announce they are joining forces to offer free education sessions to boards of directors of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Québec. The presentations allow directors to learn about their fiduciary obligations with respect to climate change, establish effective climate governance, and better understand their role in helping the management team put their company on a low-carbon transition path. Desjardins Capital is joining the project and becoming the first institutional investor in Québec to offer the presentation, designed specifically for SMEs, to boards of directors of its portfolio companies.

In Canada, SMEs emit over 200 million tCO2e or 30% of the country’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Collectively, SMEs are therefore a significant emitter in the industrial and commercial sectors. However, the disparity of their activities and sizes creates an intrinsic complexity to mobilizing them, despite the existence of technological solutions and financing programs. Moreover, according to the Institut de la statistique du Québec (2021), among SMEs committed to sustainable development, there is a significant gap between the implementation of climate initiatives and initiatives related to other environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects. For example, while 78.3% of SMEs with 5-249 employees committed to sustainable development are implementing initiatives related to the “social” aspect of ESG, only 31.5% of them are implementing climate initiatives, including improved energy management, climate adaptation and resilience measures, and GHG reduction measures. More specifically, only 13.3% of them report implementing initiatives to “reduce GHG emissions associated with their activities (mitigation) and fight climate change” compared to more than 33% for companies with 250 or more employees.

Conversing with SMEs’ board members is one of the key elements in engaging SMEs in climate action and narrowing the gap between large corporations and SMEs. Québec Net Positive is contributing to this project with its expertise on the transition of SMEs to a low-carbon economy, while CCLI is contributing with its legal expertise and knowledge on fiduciary obligations and effective climate governance. Both organizations are also pleased to have the support of Desjardins Capital to implement this initiative in Québec.

Desjardins Capital’s commitment is part of the Desjardins Group’s action plan to achieve net-zero emissions from its operations, supply chain, and its financing and equity investment activities by 2040 in three carbon-intensive sectors; energy, transport, and real estate.

For more information
The presentations are offered by CCLI’s network of Climate Governance Experts in collaboration with Anne-Josée Laquerre, Executive Director and Co-Initiator of Québec Net Positive. If you are interested in receiving a free presentation on effective climate governance for SMEs, contact Emmanuelle Létourneau, CCLI Climate Governance Expert and President and Founder of Létourneau Gouvernance entreprenante. CCLI also offers free presentations tailored to boards of directors of larger corporations.

“One of the main drivers of the transition to a low-carbon economy is the presence of informed leaders who are aware of the urgency to act and are ready to do things differently,” says Anne- Josée Laquerre, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Québec Net Positive. “We are delighted to be working with CCLI and Desjardins Capital on this project. Each new presentation will be an opportunity to exchange about the essential role that board members must play in helping SMEs prepare to operate in a low-carbon economy and seize transition business opportunities.”

“Climate change is a complex topic and for many board members, directors’ duties with respect to climate remain unclear. It’s a learning curve for everyone,” says Sonia li Trottier, Director, Canada Climate Law Initiative. “Our presentations to larger corporations are already helping many directors better understand their fiduciary obligations with respect to climate change, and we are delighted to be working with Québec Net Positive and Desjardins Capital to raise awareness of this critical issue among SMEs’ boards of directors as well.”

“This initiative is another way to help our portfolio companies address climate change risks and seize new business opportunities,” says Marie-Hélène Nolet, Chief Operating Officer, Desjardins Capital. “In this sense, we are pleased to collaborate with Québec Net Positif and the Canada Climate Law Initiative, two reputable organizations in their fields, and to offer the presentations to a first cohort of partner companies.”

About Québec Net Positive
Québec Net Positive is an independent think tank whose purpose is to accelerate the transition of the Québec economy towards a low carbon and “net positive” future. Its mission is to raise awareness, equip and mobilize Québec businesses – and their key stakeholders – to help them take advantage of the low carbon economy, go beyond mitigating risks and activate their full potential to create positive impact on society and the environment. Québec Net Positif is supported by Desjardins, the McConnell Foundation and is part of Accelerate2030, a coalition of organisations and individuals working towards the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). www.Québecnetpositif.ca

About the Canada Climate Law Initiative
CCLI is Canada’s climate governance knowledge mobilization and policy hub. In partnership with our Canadian Climate Governance Experts, we bring together knowledge and trusted insights to advise Canadian businesses and governments on how to respond to today’s urgent climate risks and opportunities through effective climate governance. CCLI is led by five principal investigators, Dr. Janis Sarra, Dr. Carol Liao, and Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson from the Peter A. Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia, and Professor Cynthia Williams and Dr. Barnali Choudhury from the Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. For more information, visit www.ccli.ubc.ca.

CCLI acknowledges that the UBC Point Grey campus is situated on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam).

About Desjardins Capital 
Over 45 years strong, Desjardins Capital has a mission to value, support and nurture the best of Québec entrepreneurship. With assets under management of C$3.0 billion as of December 31, 2021, Desjardins Capital helps contribute to the longevity of more than 670 companies, cooperatives and funds in various sectors from across Québec. In addition to helping to maintain and create many thousands of jobs, this subsidiary of Desjardins Group offers business owners access to a large business network and supports their business growth. For more information, visit our website.

Media Contacts
Anne-Josée Laquerre                                                          
Executive Director and Co-Initiator                                                 
Québec Net Positive                                   

Sonia li Trottier
Canada Climate Law Initiative