To address climate, Canada's financial system needs to evolve: research findsPembina Institute report details investor interest in resilient recovery, actions to align private investment with climate solutions

March 4, 2021

Windmills on Wolfe Island, Ontario

Photo: iStock

TORONTO — The pandemic hasn’t dampened the interest of big and small Canadian investors in participating in the transition to a clean economy, according to research released today by the Pembina Institute. But, in order to start channelling more of their savings and capital to climate solutions they need greater clarity on the rules from governments and regulators, and more transparency and disclosure on climate risk from companies.

To gauge investor attitudes, the Pembina Institute partnered with GlobeScan on the Canadian portion of its annual global public opinion survey. In addition, the Institute conducted interviews with experts on sustainable finance from the non-profit sector, industry, and financial institutions.

The resulting report, Sustainable Finance for a Safe Climate: Perspectives on mobilizing capital for a swift, resilient recovery, shows that Canadian investors have a growing interest in companies that are incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in their strategy and operations, especially with regards to climate change. However, many feel they do not have access to the information that would enable them to make better-informed decisions.

Key findings

  • A growing number of major pension fund and asset managers are pledging to increase their clean-energy investments but are urging Canadian regulators and companies to adopt disclosure policies that allow the market to better assess and compare climate-related risks and opportunities.
  • Individual Canadians are also increasingly interested in putting their savings to work on the transition to a low-carbon economy.
  • In a GlobeScan survey of 1,000 Canadians taken during the first wave of the pandemic in June 2020, 60% said they want to build back the economy from the pandemic in ways that also address climate change and inequality; 79% want to see climate change addressed with the same urgency as COVID-19.
  • Finance experts interviewed by the Pembina Institute believe financial systems in Canada need to evolve to support a well-functioning sustainable finance market that can direct more investment capital to both “green” and “transition” technologies for renewable energy and GHG emissions reduction.


“The research shows that Canadians, both as citizens and as retail investors, support a ‘build back better’ approach to the post-pandemic recovery, with a particular interest in a low-carbon and more inclusive economy.”

– Chris Coulter, CEO, GlobeScan

“Last fall, the federal government announced its intention to establish a public-private Sustainable Finance Action Council with a mandate to recommend standards for investments to be identified as sustainable. Our research suggests that leadership by this Council, together with a rising price on carbon and more rigorous frameworks for disclosure of corporate climate risk, will help unlock the private investment needed to transform Canada from an emissions-intensive economy to a net-zero one.”

– Pembina Institute executive director Linda Coady

Download a copy of Sustainable finance for a safe climate: Perspectives on mobilizing capital for a swift, resilient recovery



Sarah MacWhirter
Communications director, Pembina Institute


Media statement: Emphasis on nature and climate key to resilient economic growth
Report: Green Stimulus: Principles and recommendations for a 2020 economic stimulus package
Media release: Federal government reinforces commitment to green economic recovery

About the Pembina Institute

The Pembina Institute is a non-profit think-tank that advocates for strong, effective policies to support Canada’s clean energy transition. We have offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Toronto. Learn more:


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