What Can I Do?
Please note this section is for individuals whose pension is not invested through BCI. If your pension is invested through BCI click here.
This area is for you if you don’t have much time but:
- Want to improve the environment and make more money from your investments
- Are worried about the potential local and global environmental impacts of pipelining oil from Alberta to B.C.’s West Coast and on to Asia
- Want to help Canada meets its climate change commitments
If an asset manager manages your investments (and remember that you pay them to do this) ask these questions:
1. Does my portfolio include any of the following main oil sands companies?
- MEG Energy
- Canadian Natural Resources
2. Can I remove these companies, from my portfolio, invest in renewables, and still get the same return? If not, why not?
Asset managers may say that your investment in these companies is bundled into an index fund, or Exchange Traded Fund. If they say this, go here to find out more.
Asset managers may say there are no investments in renewables that will make the same or better return. If they say this, go here. Take a look at some of these funds, as some are likely to promote environmental renewal more than others. For example, some of the funds which exclude fossil fuels include TD Bank and RBC, which are the biggest Canadian investors in the oil sands. And take a look at this factsheet.
Asset managers may say that investors can achieve more by “having a seat at the table” and influencing fossil fuel companies by voting on shareholder resolutions and holding private meetings, than by divesting. If they say this, ask them to provide examples of where this has worked and what changes have come about. There are a few examples, but there doesn’t appear to be any convincing evidence that such engagement makes much difference. And there are case studies that show that even when investors sell shares they can still retain a seat at the table as potential future buyers. For more about the 'seat at the table' approach go here.
3. If you want to go one step further, ask:
Does my portfolio include either?
- TD Bank - major investor in tar sand companies
- Royal Bank of Canada - major investor in tar sand companies
Can I remove these companies, from my portfolio, invest in renewables, and still get the same return? If not, why not?
If the reply is the same as under #2, use the resources linked there.
Sample Letter to Wealth Manager
Note: please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have sent an email to your wealth manager so we can keep track.
As an investor I’m very concerned that my investment support environmental renewal and stop expansion of the oil sands, which will undermine Canada’s attempts to promote the climate transition.
I want to make sure that my portfolio follows the growing trend towards positive investment in environmental renewal and away from fossil fuels.
If my portfolio includes individual shares from any of the five main oil sands companies – Suncor, Cenovus, Imperial, Husky and Canadian Natural Resources — I would like to sell these. Not only are they extracting the most polluting form of oil, they have also been losing money, and no longer constitute a good long-term investment: even taking dividends into account.
If these companies are included in a mutual fund or Exchange Traded Fund that I own I would like you to find other funds which will give me an equal return but which don’t include these companies. Preferably this will be a “green” fund with a significant share of companies devoted to renewable energy, for example one of the funds at RiA Canada.
In making these requests I’m following the recommendations of the Canadian Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance and wealth managers across Canada. There is a general recognition that investing in the oil sands carries too high a level of risk, and there are now better returns to be made from investing in renewables.
If you manage your own funds
1. Check and see if any of the big five oil sands oil companies, or TD or the Royal Bank of Canada. Then follow the steps above.
Once you've divested, please come back and tell us about your experience.