TD swears off Arctic oil deals, sets 2050 net-zero carbon goal

Toronto Dominion Centre Image: Richard Pilon/Flickr

Toronto-Dominion Bank introduced a global climate action plan that includes rejecting work on oil and gas projects within the Arctic Circle and moving to net-zero carbon dioxide emissions from its operations and financing activities by 2050.

The bank has established a new group to provide advisory services and sustainability-focused financing to help clients with their own ESG efforts, according to a statement released Monday. Amy West, global head of sustainable finance and corporate transitions, is leading the new group, the Toronto-based company said.

Global banks have rolled out climate-action plans this year, jockeying for position in the sustainable finance business and trying to curry favour with environmental-minded customers. HSBC Holdings Plc said last month that it’s targeting a net-zero carbon client portfolio by 2050 and pledged to provide as much as $1 trillion to help customers cut emissions. Days earlier, JPMorgan Chase & Co. said it’s setting climate targets for its financing portfolio and is planning a net-zero carbon footprint for its own operations.

Chief executive officer Bharat Masrani said in a note to employees that Toronto-Dominion is the first major Canadian bank to make this kind of commitment and that the plan will position the firm “as part of the solution and a central player in the work ahead.”

“TD is supportive of the transition to a low-carbon economy and the action plan announced today is an important additional step forward as we seek to deliver sustainable economic prosperity,” Masrani said in a note to employees.

For the net-zero goal, Toronto-Dominion plans to start by establishing emissions baselines for its business and financing portfolio and working with clients on interim targets leading up to 2050. The bank will report on its progress on the emissions goal, which it says is aligned with the principles of the Paris Agreement, starting next year.

TD also said it won’t provide new project-specific services for work directly related to the exploration, development and production of oil and gas within the Arctic Circle, including in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

TD had about C$10.4 billion ($8 billion) in gross loans to oil, gas and pipeline companies on its books at the end of its fiscal third quarter.

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