What’s on at Transition Finance Week

November 11th, 2021 | RIA Staff

Tragic climate and weather-related events in Canada and around the world continue to serve as a painful reminder that the climate crisis is just getting started. The West Coast has faced a devastating heat wave this year, with a wildfire state of emergency in BC lasting from July to late September. A billion marine animals have been cooked to death by the hot sea while California faces its worst drought in decades.

Research from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a UN-backed group of climate scientists, suggests that the worst is yet to come. Although the Paris Agreement stipulates a need to keep the planet to less than 1.5°C of warming – or 2°C maximum – the IPCC indicates we are currently on track for 3°C of warming at best, and that Earth is on track to see dire climate impacts much sooner than expected.

All of this points to tremendous risks and opportunities for the financial sector and investors’ portfolios. As a resource-rich nation, Canada finds itself in a unique position of facing a much larger-scale economic transition than most other advanced economies. The enormous scale of the challenge means that no single investor, company, or sector can do this alone — we need to do it together, and we need to have honest conversations about how to get it done. That’s what Transition Finance Week is all about.

The RIA is hosting Transition Finance Week to convene a national industry dialogue and provide insights on financing Canada’s transition to a net-zero economy, from November 29th to December 3rd, 2021. Transition Finance Week is strategically timed to follow COP26, which will conclude two weeks beforehand. We hope you will join us as we convene the industry for these important dialogues!


Day 1 – Opening Day

Keynote Session: Global and National Developments in Sustainable Finance: COP26 and SFAC

Sustainable finance is on the rise in Canada and globally. In our opening keynote session, attendees will gain insights on two major initiatives in sustainable finance: COP26 and Canada’s Sustainable Finance Action Council (SFAC). A member of the UN’s COP26 High Level Climate Champions will share key takeaways for investors from COP26, and the Chair of Canada’s SFAC will share insights on the Council’s mandate and progress to date. A leading institutional investor will respond to these global and national developments, followed by a panel discussion with all speakers.


Transition Roundtable with Members of Canada’s Net Zero Advisory Body

In February 2021, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change announced Canada’s Net-Zero Advisory Body (NZAB). The primary mandate of the NZAB is to help identify pathways for Canada to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and to advise government on related potential policy action accordingly. In this session, Sara Alvarado, Executive Director of the Institute for Sustainable Finance, will lead a dialogue with NZAB members to learn about their work and how it relates to the Sustainable Finance Action Council and other similar bodies recently formed. The discussion will explore the need to focus on pan-Canadian pathways to net-zero across key sectors, as well as the risks and opportunities of the climate transition and key principles that will help Canada achieve net zero by 2050.


Day 2 – Corporate Dialogues

Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero Initiative

In June 2021, five of Canada’s major oil companies announced they had formed the Oil Sands Pathways to Net Zero alliance. The goal of the alliance is to work with the Canadian and Alberta governments to achieve net zero GHG emissions from oil sands operations by 2050. This will involve financing for scaling up carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, small modular reactors and other technologies that will enable them to cut their emissions. In this session, we will hear from two of the alliance’s members about the initiative, including why they consider this an important initiative, and how they plan to collaborate on the transition to net zero.


Tough Topics: GHG Offsets, Scope 3 Emissions and More

While there have been many events on net-zero, few have addressed the most challenging questions for companies and investors, such as: How do companies and investors measure and report on their scope three emissions? What are the data gaps and how can they be addressed? Can emissions offsets be part of a credible strategy to achieve net-zero, and if so, what are the best practices at the issuer and portfolio levels? A panel of expert practitioners will address these issues and other challenges on the road to net zero.


  • Priti Shokeen, Head of ESG Research and Engagement, TD Asset Management
  • Alex Robart, Energy & Sustainability Strategy Leader, Microsoft
  • Sarah Keyes, CEO, ESG Global Advisors
  • George Trisic, Chief Governance Officer, Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp.

Day 3 – Just Transition

Workers’ Perspectives on a Just Transition to Net Zero

The transition to a low-carbon economy means a transformation of industries and business models, which has the potential to negatively affect workforces and the communities in which they operate. The goals of a just transition include preparing the workforce to fully participate in economic opportunities presented by the transition and including them in discussions that affect their livelihoods. Key questions include: What steps should Canadian companies take to mitigate any negative effects of the transition on their workforce and the communities in which they operate? What is the role of investors in setting expectations for how companies are addressing the needs of their workforce in the transition? In this session we will engage with labour leaders on what a just transition means to them, and how investors and companies can work towards a just transition in Canada.


Indigenous Perspectives on a Just Transition to Net Zero

Indigenous Peoples have managed collective wealth for millennia – including lands, waters, and resources – with a strong sense of stewardship and consideration for future generations. The recent discoveries of unmarked graves at former residential schools serve as a reminder that Indigenous Peoples have faced disproportionate burdens and adverse impacts of economic and political transitions throughout Canada’s history. How can companies and investors help to enable a just transition that is informed by Indigenous perspectives, supports Indigenous economic opportunities, and mitigates any potential negative impacts on Indigenous communities? This session will explore these questions and more in a candid dialogue on how investors and companies can work in solidarity with Indigenous communities to advance a just transition in Canada.


Day 4 – Transition Finance Innovation

Transition Financing: Taxonomy, Tools & Strategies

In this session, we will begin with an update on Canada’s “Guide to Transition Finance Principles and Taxonomy”, followed by a panel discussion. Panelists will share insights on such questions as: What is the role for transition finance as Canada moves to be a net zero emitter? What transition financing tools/models and strategies are being used in Canada, and how do these need to be scaled up? What are the key challenges and opportunities? Join this session to learn more about what transition finance means, its importance to Canada, and how it will work in practice.


  • Siddharth Samarth, Executive Director, Sustainable Finance, CIBC Capital Markets
  • Patrycja Drainville, Associate Director, Sustainable Finance, Scotia Capital Inc.
  • Alyson Slater, Senior Director, Sustainable Finance, Global Risk Institute
  • Andrew Hall, Senior Director of Sustainable Finance, TMX Group

Sustainability-Linked Financing Tools

Accelerating the transition to net zero will require significant investment, and companies are increasingly looking to attract capital through innovative financing tools. Sustainability-linked debt provides another financing option for issuers to consider alongside green, social and sustainability bonds. But, issuers need to take care in structuring their financing tools to avoid criticisms of “greenwashing”. This session will provide an introduction to sustainability-linked financing, drawing upon the experience of an issuer who will discuss how they work and the role they can play in financing the transition to net zero.


  • Mary Robinson, Director, Research & Membership, RIA
  • Heather Lang, Executive Director, Sustainable Finance Solutions, Sustainalytics
  • Fanny Doucet, Managing Director & Head, Sustainable Finance, Scotiabank
  • Geoff Pegg, Head of Sustainability & Environment, Telus

Day 5 – Scaling Up

Scaling Up Renewable Energy: How will Canada get it done?

Canada’s commitment to a net zero future means we need to scale up renewable energy to replace fossil fuels and meet growing energy demands. However, market participants are confronted with structural and technological barriers to the growth of renewable energy in Canada and must find ways to overcome these barriers if we are to achieve net zero emissions. What are the opportunities for Canada? What are the barriers and how can market participants overcome them? The session will begin with a presentation on the current state of play for renewables in Canada, followed by a panel discussion on the road ahead for scaling up renewable energy, including the perspectives from issuers about their paths to transition to net zero. 


Scaling Up Capital for Net Zero Solutions

Join this session for a deep dive on what’s needed to scale up investment in renewable energy and clean technology solutions. What are the barriers to capital mobilization, and how can they be overcome? What’s the role of policy/regulation? How can we mobilize risk capital in retail and institutional markets? A panel of experts will address these issues and more.


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RIA Staff

Responsible Investment Association

The Responsible Investment Association (RIA) is Canada’s industry association for responsible investment. RIA Members include asset managers, asset owners, advisors, and service providers who support our mandate of promoting responsible investment in Canada’s retail and institutional markets.