A collection of institutional investors with religious affiliations is calling on the federal government to create a mechanism to set a price on carbon emissions in next week’s budget.

The letter, which was facilitated by the Vancouver-based Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE), is signed by 53 religious institutional investors that claim control over combined assets of more than $2 billion. It calls on Finance Minister Joe Oliver to ask the federal government to establish mechanisms “to set a clear, reliable and effective price for carbon emissions with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and limiting catastrophic climate change.”

In a previous budget, the federal government did pledge to create the necessary policy framework for an emissions trading market that would establish a price for carbon emissions, but never followed through.

The letter does not indicate a preference for a cap-and-trade system, or a carbon tax, which are two common mechanisms governments use to put a price on emissions. Rather, it simply argues that establishing a price for carbon emissions “will provide certainty for Canadian businesses both in their current operations and in planning future investments in our country. Similarly, Canadian investors that rely on the accuracy of business analysis and planning for our own longer-term projections and investment decisions need the certainty created by a national mechanism for carbon pricing.”

“Without the certainty created by a carbon pricing mechanism, businesses and investors cannot depend on longer-term projections and have weaker market incentives for reducing the carbon intensity of their investments and allocating capital that enhance the sustainability and reliability of Canada’s energy production,” it says.

The letter argues that the economy and the environment are not separate concerns, and it says, “As those entrusted with the financial health of funds held in trust for our faith communities and the retirement incomes of those who serve them, we understand the responsibility to act now in ways that sustain the economic health of our communities, the employment this supports, and the environment upon which the long-term viability and growth of our financial investments depends. Establishing a price for carbon emissions serves all of these ends.”

“Science tells us that if we fail to act now, climate change will have disastrous impacts on our country,” the letter concludes. “Our role as trustees and administrators of the financial resources of our religious communities tells us we cannot afford to ignore these impacts. And our faith tells us that we have a responsibility to act.”

The letter was signed by representatives of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, The United Church of Canada, the Trustees of the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the pension plans of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and The United Church of Canada, Regroupement pour la Responsibilité Sociale des Entreprises (RRSE), regional church bodies, religious foundations and Catholic religious institutes.