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A report from an investor-focused advocacy group raises questions about how well some of Canada's biggest investors are meeting their climate commitments.

The report from Investors for Paris Compliance (IPC) looks at the voting records on shareholder proposals by 19 Canadian members of Climate Action 100+, a global coalition with around 700 members representing over $68 trillion in assets under management.

The coalition is built on the principle that investors' engagement with companies on climate disclosure and emission reduction strategies essential to achieving the goals of the Paris agreement, and is consistent with their duties as investors.

But the IPC report found that Canadian coalition members took widely differing approaches to the shareholder voting aspect of those efforts, with the likes of Bâtirente, Vancity and Genus Capital Management either supporting or abstaining from all the shareholder proposals they voted on, while others like AIMCo, RBC Global Asset Management, and Guardian Capital LP voted against all of the 14 Canadian proposals analyzed.

The Canadian shareholder proposals, none of which passed, were dominated by efforts to give shareholders a say on the companies' climate plans, referred to as "say on climate," and also included efforts to push for a climate change committee at Scotiabank and for Brookfield Asset Management to adopt greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.

Shareholder proposals for U.S. companies, focused entirely on adopting emission reduction targets, got more support from Canadian investors, including some from those who voted against all of the Canadian proposals.

IPC director of research and policy Kyra Bell-Pasht said in a statement that big investors need to be willing to escalate their climate engagement beyond simple dialogue in order for efforts to be effective.

“Engagement is often held up as the alternative to divestment, but unless investors are willing to vote for climate proposals, engagement is likely to be toothless and ineffective.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 1, 2023.

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