June 14, 2019
The Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance – Executive Summary
Canada has a strong, diversified and resource-rich economy; a world-leading financial sector; and excellent capacity for innovation. By harnessing these advantages, Canada can be among the leaders in the global transition to a low-emissions future, as a trusted source of climate-smart solutions, expertise and investment. Realizing this ambition will require a committed alliance between business, government and civil society; and determined investment. This Final Report is about mobilizing financial services to deliver the investment, ingenuity and influence needed to realize Canada’s leadership opportunity and secure a sustainable economic future.
The effects of climate change are upon us. Shifting weather patterns are amplifying the natural risks we already face – floods, storms, heat and drought – leading to more frequent and extreme loss events. Preparing for, and adapting to, the current and future impacts of climate change is a critical aspect in managing risk to our communities, businesses and ecosystems. As the effects of climate change are becoming more evident around the world, we are also seeing shifts in consumer preferences, innovation, economic activity, competitive advantage and wealth creation. Consumers are increasingly looking for services and products with a smaller environmental footprint. Climate-smart innovations are no longer marginal alternatives – they are becoming a massive global market opportunity yielding quality jobs. With these shifts, sound environmental stewardship is increasingly intersecting with market access and becoming a critical source of sustained competitive advantage.
While the Government has put forward a plan to underpin Canada’s transition – the Pan Canadian Framework for Clean Growth and Climate Change (PCF) – and begun implementing key policies, the role of financial markets in driving this change has yet to be fully leveraged. Finance is not going to solve climate change, but it has a critical role to play in supporting the real economy through the transition. The emerging field of ‘sustainable finance’ is focused squarely on channelling financial sector expertise, ingenuity and influence towards the challenges and opportunities posed by climate change.
The potential for sustainable finance to accelerate transition and help households and businesses manage new climate risks is already well recognized by a number of Canada’s international peers, including the European Union, the United Kingdom and China. Major financial centres in these countries are beginning to implement the recommendations of their sustainable finance task forces, with ambitions to become global hubs in this market. Canada has the means and the opportunity to stand among these global leaders as a decision-maker rather than a decision-taker in the global market for sustainable products, services and investments.
Recognizing the opportunity, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister of Finance jointly appointed the Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance in April 2018 to explore opportunities and challenges facing Canada in this field, and to present the Government with a set of recommendations to scale and align sustainable finance with our country’s climate and economic goals.
Following extensive consultations, the Expert Panel delivered an Interim Report in October 2018 that laid out the state of play in Canada, identifying factors critical to developing and scaling priority financial markets and products.
This Final Report – Mobilizing Finance for Sustainable Growth – presents a package of practical, concrete recommendations focused on spurring the essential market activities, behaviours and structures needed to bring sustainable finance into the mainstream. If Canada is to meet its long-term objectives, sustainable finance must become, simply, finance. In other words, climate change opportunity and risk management need to become business-as-usual in financial services, and embedded in everyday business decisions, products and services.