CDPQ's 2022 Sustainable Investing Report
CDPQ published today its Sustainable Investing Report for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2022.
In the report, CDPQ presents its actions and accomplishments in sustainable investment. Here are some highlights:Environment
CDPQ is well on track to reach a net-zero portfolio by 2050:
- $47 billion in low-carbon assets, including $12 billion in Québec, which represents a global increase of $29 billion in low-carbon assets since 2017.
- Over $300 billion in low-carbon assets or invested in low-carbon sectors.
- A 53% reduction in the carbon intensity of the portfolio since 2017.
- Three transactions were concluded as part of the transition envelope to reduce emissions from the largest emitting companies.
- Our exit from the oil sector is essentially completed.Social
CDPQ is convinced that an ecosystem that promotes diversity in all its forms encourages the emergence of a fairer, more inclusive and performant economy:
- Women represent 45% of its staff and it has a goal of achieving 47% female representation by 2025.
- 52% of its actively managed public companies have at least 30% of women on their Boards of Directors, an increase of more than 27% in two years.
- CDPQ is one of the only investors in the world to have made a commitment to encourage best tax practices within its portfolio companies, including compliance with a minimum tax rate of at least 15%, as recommended by the OECD and supported by the G20.Governance
Sound governance is essential to good performance and optimal risk management. This is why CDPQ uses its influence to promote the adoption of best practices by:
- Assisting several portfolio companies in integrating ESG factors into their processes, including nine Québec companies.
- Raising awareness of ESG issues for 175 portfolio companies and 63 external managers.
- Using its voting rights to vote on 54,337 resolutions at 5,537 shareholder meetings.
"Every day, our approach is guided by our responsibility towards the six million Quebecers who entrust us with their savings. CDPQ uses its constructive capital to take meaningful action for current and future generations. Recognized here and internationally, this leadership in sustainable investment is our pride," said Charles Emond, President and Chief Executive Officer of CDPQ.
"The combination of the diversified expertise of our teams and their knowledge of the markets allows us to innovate to concretely address the financing of the transition. We are also involved in many international actions to catalyze solutions that promote sustainable investing and that will have a positive impact on the communities and the companies in which we invest," said Marc-André Blanchard, Executive Vice-President and Head of CDPQ Global and Global Head of Sustainability.
The 2022 Sustainable Investing Report is available online.ABOUT CDPQ
At CDPQ, we invest constructively to generate sustainable returns over the long term. As a global investment group managing funds for public pension and insurance plans, we work alongside our partners to build enterprises that drive performance and progress. We are active in the major financial markets, private equity, infrastructure, real estate and private debt. As at December 31, 2022, CDPQ's net assets totalled CAD 402 billion. For more information, visit cdpq.com, follow us on Twitter or consult our Facebook or LinkedIn pages.
CDPQ is a registered trademark owned by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and licensed for use by its subsidiaries.
Let me begin with the highlights below:
Take the time to view the 2022 Sustainable Investing Report here.
A little strange to me but there is no PDF available for the full report, only for the four pages of highlights I embedded above.
Anyway, I think it's worth going over the Message from CDPQ's CEO Charles Emond:
In an environment characterized by simultaneous crises, like we are seeing now, the fact that many investors are turning to environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors to improve their asset management has given rise to a false debate.“As a manager of public funds, building a more equitable and sustainable world is not a choice. It is a responsibility that goes with our fiduciary duty.”
Taking concrete actions, for today and tomorrow
At CDPQ, we want to be among those who are taking concrete steps for present and future generations. We have a fiduciary duty toward our depositors, and together we share an ambition to act in the interests of the community.
We have convictions, but we are also pragmatic in our approach. Taking ESG factors into account allows us to better assess the long-term viability of a company and better understand the risks it faces. We also have short-, medium- and long-term targets to create value and ensure superior returns for our depositors.
Our teams maintain an ongoing dialogue with our portfolio companies to improve their practices and support their performance through the application of rigorous criteria. Our efforts are focused on certain priorities—including the climate, diversity and taxation—to maximise our impact across all our areas of activity.
We acted early and decisively to address climate change, which represents a great risk to our companies. As a result, we now have one of the world’s largest portfolios of assets in renewable energy generation. It has delivered excellent returns for our depositors over the past five years, generating higher performance than companies in oil production. Our exit from this sector is essentially completed.
We also believe there can be no doubt that our companies and external managers gain from supporting greater diversity and promoting inclusion within their teams. When they do, they benefit from diverse and complementary perspectives when assessing risks and identifying opportunities. And now, in these times of economic uncertainty, the need is greater than ever to promote equal opportunities through our activities.
Lastly, as a global investor, having our portfolio companies adopt a tax structure that respects communities is fundamental to our sustainable asset management approach. This is why we are one of the few fund managers in the world who committed to carrying out a systematic portfolio review from a tax perspective. We based that review on specific criteria, including the minimum tax rate recommended by the OECD and supported by the G20.
Beyond the initiatives we are putting in place, we were recognized for our leadership as a global investor, in particular in terms of sustainable investing. Among several awards received during the year, we were named 2022 Fund of the Year, ahead of some 400 sovereign wealth funds and public pension funds analyzed by Global SWF. Our contribution to the development of Québec’s sustainable economy was also recognized. In addition, our rigorous governance and climate action have earned us the number one ranking among pension funds in the World Benchmarking Alliance’s Financial System Benchmark.“Of course, it's demanding to be a successful and responsible investor. But we believe that's what it takes to fulfill our dual mandate.”
In Québec and around the world, we are recognized as an innovator that can use our constructive capital and our network of international partners to create solutions to the challenges that markets and communities face. And every day, our approach is guided by our responsibility to the six million Quebecers who entrust us with their savings.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, CDPQ is a global leader in sustainable investing and it has nothing to do with the fact that it fully exited out of oil & gas sector last year or the fact that it has "one of the world’s largest portfolios of assets in renewable energy generation."
Let that sink in for a second. It has NOTHING to do with its (in my opinion wrong) decision to divest out of oil & gas and NOTHING to do with the fact that CDPQ is one of the world's top investors in renewable energy assets.
Huh? How can this be?
To really appreciate why CDPQ is a global trend setter in sustainable investing you really have to delve deeply in its climate strategy it unveiled almost two years ago.
Every time CDPQ does something big in sustainable investing, others follow suit.
They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, and when it comes to CDPQ's sustainable investing and responsible investing strategy, other large Canadian and global pensions typically try to incorporate many bits and pieces into their own strategy (except for divesting out of oil & gas as they prefer engagement and focusing on transition investing).
Let's move on to the message from Marc-André Blanchard, Executive Vice-President and Head of CDPQ Global and Global Head of Sustainability:
I am extremely proud of our achievements over the past year. Through a combination of our diversified expertise and the market knowledge of our teams, we innovated and found practical solutions that address the financing of climate measures on a global scale. Our transition envelope and blended finance are examples of a range of solutions for working collectively, with various stakeholders, to catalyze efforts toward achieving ambitious targets.
I can see that, around the world, CDPQ’s leadership shines. Our attendance at major events such as COP27 and COP15 and our participation, alongside our peers, in a number of global initiatives on ESG matters, are helping achieve progress on these critical issues. The synergy that emerges from these concerted international actions creates a spirit of collaboration and trust that is increasingly favourable to sustainable investing.
This suggests that solid progress will be made in 2023. Our teams will continue to propose various avenues for creating value for the communities where we invest. And we believe that our proactive engagement with our portfolio companies is a path to continued success.
For us, this is a promising way to build a sustainable future.
Now, it's really important for me to highlight something in my comment.
The bursting of the ESG bubble which is still ongoing in public markets is a really good thing but it does not signal the death of responsible investing at Canada's large pension funds.
There is an important distinction to be made here.
The ESG bubble is just like any other bubble in the history of financial markets, investors get swept away with labels and concepts and tend to pour obscene money into investments that are labelled "ESG".
All this does is fuel a bubble and bubbles never end well, ever.
And there's more to go, just look at Tesla shares which continue to defy logic:
I'm short Tesla shares and think they're heading back to $30 a share by Q1 2024.
[Note: Instead of shorting outright or buying puts, I prefer the AXS TSLA Bear Daily ETF (TSLQ).
Also, Tesla Inc cut prices for some of its Model Y and Model 3 electric vehicles in the United States, its website showed late on Tuesday, the sixth time it has lowered U.S. prices this year amid concerns about the effect on its profit margins.]Tesla remains the poster child for an ESG bubble and because it's such an important part of the major indexes, the big indexers -- Vanguard, BlackRock, and Fidelity -- are reluctant to sell it outright.
Anyway, Tesla isn't responsible investing, it's just a stock.
Responsible investing at Canada's large pension funds is here to stay, it represents a long-term approach to investing which enhances long-term risk-adjusted returns.
Importantly, responsible investing doesn't supplant rigorous investing using quantitative and qualitative screens, it complements it.
This is why we really need to be careful not to confound ESG bubble and nonsense with the responsible investing approach Canada's large pension funds have adopted to enhance long-term returns.
The onus is on the leaders of Canada's Maple Eight and other large pensions to explain this distinction properly.
And even in public markets, ESG has its place in terms of enhancing revenues/ profits over the long run:
Over 70% of Businesses View ESG as a Revenue Enabler: IBM Study https://t.co/vxmHYx76qz— Leo Kolivakis (@PensionPulse) April 18, 2023
Alright, let me end it there and once again refer my readers to CDPQ's Sustainable Investing Report for the fiscal year ending December 31, 2022.
There is a lot more detail in there and one area where CDPQ is leading the world is in how its massive Real Estate portfolio managed by Ivanhoé Cambridge is taking the lead to cut its carbon emissions significantly through various initiatives.
Real Estate remains the single biggest contributor to carbon emissions at Canada's large pensions and global institutional investors.
In order to cut emissions, you have to have a clear climate strategy governing real estate assets.
One last note, I went to see my physiatrist Dr. André Roy earlier today to do two cortisone shots in my lumbar spine around the L3/L4 level (since my pain is bilateral, he did one on the right and left side as I lay flat on my stomach praying my leg spasms wouldn’t act up…they did but Dr. Roy and his assistant did a masterful job finishing the procedure in relatively quick time while holding me down).
Dr. Roy sees his fair share of chronic pain but he told me to do the MRI quickly at the MNI and have Dr. Goulet, my neurosurgeon, review the results as quickly as possible.
"You're suffering too much, I want to see you in a month, let's hope the cortisone helps alleviate some of the intolerable nerve pain you're experiencing."
He also reiterated what Dr. Goulet said: "This has nothing to do with Multiple Sclerosis, once you address this, your quality of life will significantly improve."
I also met a lady who works in finance, a patient with cervical spine pain, and I told her I'm on Lyrica and Baclofen three times a day but it hasn't kicked in yet (going on second week, it could take up to four weeks to work, if it works; the same with cortisone shots).
I told her I still manage to track markets all day and write a blog comment at night even though the medication gives me a form of narcolepsy and I fall asleep throughout the day (my wife says it's my blog comments, they cure insomnia, she's funny!).
"Wow, chapeau (hats off), I had to take time off work because Lyrica is making me incapable of thinking clearly and leaves me dead tired" (try taking it with Baclofen, knocks you right out).
I'm trying to do my best to keep up the blog comments but it goes without saying, my health comes first and if I don't feel up to it, I'm not blogging so bear with me.
Also, I appreciate those who appreciate the work that goes into these blog comments and support the work financially through PayPal options on the top left-hand side of this blog under my picture.
Just remember, there's a reason why this is the best blog on pensions and investments in the world and it's not my pretty face! -:)
That will have to wait for another comment when I compare the performance and compensation at Canada's large pensions.
Below, Lenka Martinek, managing partner at Sustainable Market Strategies and Nordis Capital, joins BNN Bloomberg (January, 2023)to discuss her hot picks in the sustainability sector. Martinek lists two companies she's bullish on, and also recommends a company to short which she believes not to be as sustainable as they claim. Smart lady, she really knows her stuff.
And carbon footprint in Real Estate & Infrastructure, the Indian perspective, held on Wednesday, February 23rd. In collaboration with GRESB Partner Envint, and support from GRESB Industry Partner APREA.
Update: Charles Emond was interviewed on Zone Economie (in French) explaining their decision to exit oil & gas during a good year (2022) and how they're investing more in renewable assets that have performed better over last five years: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2AhWCcN0xc (embedded below).
Also, my former colleague, Stefane Marion, Chief Economist and Strategist at the National Bank, put out an interesting Hot Chart:
Ottawa's recently released national inventory report shows that Canada's commitment to reduce GHG emissions (mainly CO2) by 40-45% from 2005 levels by 2030 is progressing. Emissions were 8.4% lower than there 2005 levels in 2021. Meanwhile, global GHG emissions surged to a record high in 2021 on the back of greater coal usage. Unfortunately, Canada failed to convince the rest of the G7 to set a timetable for phasing out coal-fired power plants at a meeting last weekend in Sapporo. This latest setback follows the European Union's refusal last autumn to downgrade woody biomass as a renewable energy (see our report on the controversy here). While some of our trading partners continue to apply questionable governance in reducing and accounting for CO2 emissions, maybe it’s time for our country to change its strategy to better support global decarbonization. As today’s Hot Chart shows, Canada’s share of global emissions, at 1.47%, is the lowest since 1906. Taking a leadership role to ensure better environmental governance and helping emerging countries limit their use of coal/wood during their energy transition would make a greater contribution to climate change than the status quo.
On LinkedIn, I didn't mince my words: "Excellent comment from my former colleague, Stefane Marion, Chief Economist and Strategist at the National Bank of Canada. Reading this makes me wonder if Ottawa (Michael Sabia at Finance Canada) should reach out to Canada’s Maple Eight to help the government better frame its strategy to support global decarbonization:"