Commercial mortgages account for the largest share of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions financed by Vancouver City Savings Credit Union (Vancity), according to a new report.
Back in January, Vancity committed to achieving net-zero emissions across its lending portfolio by 2040. On Thursday, the credit union disclosed the GHG emissions generated from its book of loans and the investments it manages.
“Climate targets must come with actions to reduce emissions. And to do that you need to know where you are starting from,” Christine Bergeron, president and CEO of Vancity, said in a release.
According to the data, Vancity has just under $5.5 billion invested in commercial real estate, which generates 9.6 tonnes of GHG emissions for every dollar invested, resulting in 52,528 tonnes of emissions annually.
But commercial real estate isn’t the most carbon-intensive portion of Vancity’s book — that would be car loans, which generate 179 tonnes of emissions for every dollar invested. Vancity has $20 million invested in car loans, resulting in in about 3,527 tonnes of emissions per year.
Residential mortgages, the largest line of business for Vancity, generate 2.4 tonnes of emissions for every dollar invested. Vancity has just under $13 billion invested in residential mortgages, resulting in 31,162 tonnes of emissions per year.
On the investment side of the business, Vancity subadvises the Inhance socially responsible investment funds, which generate 41,618 tonnes of emissions annually. Private assets under management generate 12,262 tonnes of emissions per year.
Vancity used the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials methodology — a standardized GHG emissions measure for the financial sector — to determine the carbon impact of its financing business.
Some emissions data was unavailable. For instance, Vancity does not have comprehensive tracking for all consumer loans, some of which may be used to purchase vehicles.
The credit union said it will continue to publish its financing emissions annually while seeking to improve the data as it works toward building interim emissions-reduction targets beginning with targets for 2025.
In the meantime, Bergeron called for a standardized approach to measuring carbon risk across the financial sector.
“Vancity’s disclosure is voluntary, and we’ll continue to report out every year, but Canada’s financial system needs a standardized approach to climate risk metrics if we’re going to be able to understand the broader risks posed by the climate crisis,” Bergeron said.