Patrick DeRochie is the Climate & Energy Program Manager for Environmental Defence, where he leads campaigns to build support for Canada’s transition to a low-carbon, clean economy. As a CoPower Green Bond investor he’s aligning his work with his personal finances.
For the last three years, I’ve been working to accelerate Canada’s transition to a low-carbon economy. In my role at Environmental Defence that means helping to develop and secure strong provincial and federal climate policy and building public support to sustain climate action. Think: carbon pricing, energy efficiency, renewable energy, and electric vehicles.
It also means drawing a line in the sand when it comes to financing and building new fossil fuel infrastructure. Think: stopping pipelines, constraining tar sands expansion, and ending public subsidies for oil and gas companies.
Pushing for renewables and pulling back from fossil fuels are two strategies that need to work in tandem. On their own, neither will prevent dangerous climate change. Together, they’re a powerful tool for change.
"Pushing for renewables and pulling back from fossil fuels are two strategies that need to work in tandem. On their own, neither will prevent dangerous climate change. Together, they’re a powerful tool for change."
My work requires convincing governments and the public to do just that-- invest their time and money in the low-carbon economy and away from the fossil fuel economy. That’s why I thought it was so important to get my own financial house in order. As an investor in CoPower Green Bonds, I’m proud to be able to say that my work and my personal finances are aligned.
For years, I struggled to find banking and investment options that not only divest from the industries that are polluting our water, air, land and climate but also invest in environmental solutions. Canada’s big banks are beginning to offer fossil-free funds and other responsible investments, yet they are still some of the largest financial backers of the very infrastructure projects that I spend my workday trying to stop.
I used to have all of my investments with one of Canada's "Big 5" banks, but after speaking to several investment advisors, I was never offered a fossil-free solution. The terms “carbon bubble”, “stranded assets”, and “impact investing” seemed to fly over their head. After consulting Tim Nash the Sustainable Economist, attending the Good Investment Fair at the Centre for Social Innovation, and getting some ideas from friends and colleagues in the environmental community, I pulled the plug on those investments.
"New start-ups like SolarShare and CoPower provided the perfect solution, liberating me from having to invest in the things I’m trying to stop."
New start-ups like SolarShare and CoPower provided the perfect solution, liberating me from having to invest in the things I’m trying to stop—like pipelines and tar sands expansion—and investing my money in the climate solutions I’m trying to accelerate—energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. These two investments make up the impact portion of my investments while the rest of my savings are invested in a custom portfolio built by Investors Group and fossil-free exchange-traded funds like Genus Fossil Free.
CoPower offers me as an individual the same climate action roadmap that I expect of our governments: incentivize the clean economy solutions that enable a prosperous shift away from fossil fuels.
Canada’s federal government and most provincial governments are making notable progress on climate action. They’re putting a price on carbon, phasing out coal-fired power generation, investing in low-carbon technologies, and designing a range of other policies to drive down carbon pollution from transportation, industry, buildings and agriculture while increasing investment in a clean economy.
The problem is, the Canadian Government isn’t moving quickly enough to tackle the other half of the equation: ending subsidies for oil and gas companies. Preventing dangerous climate change requires an orderly phase-out of the fossil fuel industry and a just transition for workers and communities, but every year, Canada’s provincial and federal governments give at least $3.3 billion in public money to oil and gas companies. These subsidies include oil and gas exploration and development expenses, royalty reductions, tax credits and other grants and tax breaks.
"The problem is, [our governments] are not moving quickly enough to tackle the other half of the equation: ending subsidies for oil and gas companies."
Fossil fuel subsidies undermine climate action, including the positive steps the government is taking. Subsidies encourage more fossil fuel exploration and production and take money away from other priorities like health care, education and renewable energy. Bloomberg has called these subsidies “the world’s dumbest policy”. It’s like taxing consumers when they buy cigarettes, while also giving massive tax breaks to tobacco companies so they can make more cigarettes.
Fossil fuel subsidies also mean that you and I as taxpayers have no choice but to finance the companies that contribute to climate change and pollute our water, air and land. $3.3 billion means every Canadian household is contributing over $234 to oil and gas companies every year.
"Fossil fuel subsidies also mean that you and I as taxpayers have no choice but to finance the companies that contribute to climate change."
CoPower gave me an opportunity to move my money away from the climate pollution I’m working to stop and invest in the climate solutions I’m working to accelerate. Clean investing and ending financing for fossil fuels are two sides of the same coin—and CoPower wins the coin toss every time.
I want my government to follow CoPower’s lead. I hope you agree.
Editor's note: Patrick invested in CoPower's second issuance of Green Bonds (Green Bond II). Our third issuance (Green Bond III) is now available for investment.
The client testimonial that appears on this page was solicited by CoPower and may not be representative of the views of other investors or potential investors in CoPower Green Bonds. Please consult the CoPower Green Bond Offering Memorandum for all material information in respect of CoPower Finance Inc., CoPower Green Bonds and the terms of the offering.