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Beneficiaries pile climate pressure on Canadian pension funds

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“The climate situation affects everyone, and we can no longer address it with the same methods used a few years ago,” Charles Emond, chief executive officer of the pension fund, said in a statement. “We have to make important decisions on issues such as oil production and decarbonizing sectors that are essential to our economies.”

Legal backgrounder

The beneficiaries’ letters have been drafted in association with Shift: Action for Pension Wealth & Planet Health, Environmental Defence, and environmental law charity Ecojustice.

They include a legal backgrounder setting out the fiduciary obligations that fund managers have to beneficiaries along with a list of questions about climate change for fund managers to answer.

“Pension funds must assess and act decisively to limit their exposure to climate risks or else potentially face legal consequences,” says Andhra Azevedo, Ecojustice lawyer. “Pension fund beneficiaries are asking their pension funds to be transparent about their policies and actions to date so beneficiaries can determine if their fund is meeting these requirements.”

Which funds?

The funds have been asked to provide information about how they are meeting their duty to act in the best long-term interests of their beneficiaries by December 31, 2021.