The Government of Canada announced the launch of a new Sustainable Finance Action Council, aimed at helping mobilize capital and investment necessary to meet the country’s sustainability goals.

According to the government’s announcement, the council will bring together public and private sector financial expertise to support the growth of a strong, well-functioning, sustainable finance market. With broad representation of Canadian banks, insurance companies and pension funds, financial sector leaders will provide input on the foundational market infrastructure needed for a stable and reliable sustainable finance market, while a public sector coordinating group will play a role in observing council meetings and advising the chair.

The launch of the new council follows Canada’s announcement last year of a commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050. At last month’s U.S.-hosted Leaders Summit on Climate, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised the country’s interim climate target, pledging to cut emissions by 40% – 45% by 2030.

The principal mandate of the council will be to make recommendations on critical market infrastructure needed to attract and scale sustainable finance in Canada. Areas of focus will include enhanced assessment and disclosure of climate risks and opportunities, better access to climate data and analytics, and common standards for sustainable and low-carbon investments.

The council’s early emphasis will be on enhancing climate-related financial disclosures in Canada’s private and public sector, in alignments with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations. In addition, the council will also prioritize gender and diversity reporting.

Minister of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson said:

“As financial systems around the world are increasingly looking to measure, price and disclose climate risk, the Sustainable Finance Action Council will help ensure Canada stays ahead of the curve. There is no question that climate change presents unprecedented risks and economic opportunities. The sooner we understand and disclose them, the more effectively we can address and seize them.”

The new council will be chaired by Kathy Bardswick, former President and CEO of Canadian insurance company The Co-operators Group. Bardswick has spent nearly four decades in the financial services industry, and has also served as a member of the UN Inquiry into a Sustainable Financial System, and as President of the Canadian Institute for Climate Choices.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland said:

“The global economy is turning swiftly, decisively, and irreversibly green. It is essential for the prosperity of the next generation of Canadians – and indeed, for those of us working today – for Canada to be at the forefront of this great transformation. Our government knows that the only choice for Canada is to be in the vanguard – and prioritizing sustainable finance is central to this objective. We want to ensure Canada is the best place to invest and to secure the long-term growth of our economy. I am grateful that Kathy Bardswick has agreed to lead the Sustainable Finance Action Council and bring leading financial sector organizations together to make sustainable finance standard industry practice in Canada.”

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