The Desjardins Group is going carbon neutral as part of several actions the company plans to address climate change.

In a release, the company pointed to its aim of supporting the transition to cleaner energy as well as pushing for the businesses it invests in to adopt ideal environmental, social and governance practices.

“As a financial co-operative, we can lead by example and encourage the transition to a greener economy,” said Guy Cormier, president and chief executive officer of Desjardins Group, in a release. “That’s why Desjardins has decided to go carbon neutral, invest in renewable energy projects and reduce the carbon footprint of our publicly traded portfolio. And for all of our other activities, we will add authorization criteria to encourage respect for the environment and communities in finance.”

Beginning in 2017, the group will buy carbon credits to counter greenhouse gas emissions. Both the group and its pension plan are committing to focus on renewables when investing directly in energy infrastructure.

Further, the group plans, by 2020, to have a portfolio with a carbon footprint that’s 25 per cent lower than the average of the companies comprising the equity and bond market indices.

As well, the group will apply new authorization criteria to consider environmental, social and governance factors. Specifically, the group will examine whether a partner has consulted with the communities affected by a project, such as First Nations, has formulated a plan to significantly reduce its own carbon footprint and mitigate climate change risk and has compensation and workplace health and safety procedures in place.

“If we want the energy transition to succeed, it has to be a group effort. Now, more than ever, the financial industry needs to come together and set an example, by making responsible use of the money under our control,” said Cormier.

The integration of the practices will begin to appear in the group’s annual reporting, starting with the end of the 2018 fiscal year.