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How to approach Sustainable Finance

Money moves mountains, and as outdoors people, when we align our financial decisions with the things that we value most, we're literally investing in the future of the planet. Many of us have no idea where our money goes - whether it's your savings account at a big bank, or the pension fund your company manages as part of your benefits plan - you might be surprised about what you're funding.

The good news is, making small changes, and using your voice, adds up to a big difference. You don't have to have a trust fund or a degree in economics - you're more POWerful than you think! Read on to learn how to make sustainable financial decisions that are also good for your wallet, and how to be a force for change in your workplace. 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Responsible Investment - Your Money, Your Choice

Investment is a significant part of sustainable finance. Responsible investment refers to making sustainable finance choices in your investments, and the incorporation of ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) into your decisions. There are many ways to do this, such as opting to put your savings or RRSP into funds that match your values - there are lots of options out there. Which is most appropriate for you will depend on you and your goals. Need help? We’ve put together an overview of established approaches and strategies below, plus a list of questions you can ask your bank, so you know where your money is really going.

Financial Performance

A common misconception is that profit and sustainability cannot work together. However, as ESG funds become more mainstream, many now show similar performance to comparable funds, or even outperform the market. ESG funds are sometimes considered to be lower risk too, with many analysts arguing that traditional funds are failing to adequately account for climate risk in their disclosure to investors. As with anything, it's important to ask a LOT of questions and make sure you're comfortable that your decisions meet your individual needs.

Become an Employee Advocate

You don't have to have a bunch of stocks or millions sitting in your RRSP (if only!) to make a difference, though. In fact, if you work for a company that provides employee pension schemes or has its own investments (hint: most mid-sized companies and larger), then simply by using your voice, you could help to trigger a significant change. How? Chances are, the funds managed by your business invest in things that don't really align with what your business stands for. That could be fossil fuels, arms, tobacco - it depends on the fund and the company. By talking to the people at work who make these decisions, and building a coalition of like minded colleagues who want to see change, you can help your business to invest in things that make the world a better place. Find out more about how to become an employee advocate with our one-page guide below.

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Sustainable Finance Resources

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Where change is already happening:


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FAQ

 

Is POW trying to close down the oil and gas industry?

We understand that fossil fuel industries provide livelihoods for many communities, and that you can’t shut off the taps overnight. We believe in a just transition to renewable energy, that will provide great jobs and economic benefits for all Canadians, while creating sustainable ways to power our society in the months and years ahead. 

 

I’ve heard that gas companies are best placed to lead the transition to renewable energy – is that right?

Well, it’s complicated. In theory that’s true, because fossil fuel companies have the funds and much of the existing infrastructure to produce and distribute renewable energy at scale. But to date, they’ve shown no signs of moving away from extraction and burning of fuels, and instead are relying on untested and so-far ineffective technologies like carbon capture to move toward Net Zero. We no longer have time to wait for them to make the move – we need to invest in proven renewables if we’re going to keep global heating under 1.5 degrees and avoid further catastrophes like we’ve seen across Canada in the past year.

 

Are ESG funds as reliable as other investments?

It’s important to know that while we here at POW have many talents, we’re not financial advisors. But we can tell you that lots of analysis is showing that fossil-free investment funds are performing as well as, if not better than, their peers. We suggest doing your research, chatting with your pension fund manager and bank to find a fund that balances your financial goals in line with your personal values.

 

What could our government do?

We welcome the commitments made by the Government of Canada to end subsidies and public financing for the fossil fuel sector. However, these commitments do not yet amount to the federal government ending its fossil fuel support in line with what is needed for Canada to meet its climate targets. We urge the government to demonstrate true leadership by going beyond the commitments made to date and eliminate all subsidies, public financing and other forms of financial support from the Government of Canada and federal crown corporations directed to the oil and gas sector by the end of 2022. Read more here.

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