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Calgary’s billion-dollar Benevity bets that good deeds are their own reward

What do former vice-president Al Gore, rock star and U2 frontman Bono, and Canadian-born Jeff Skoll, the first president of eBay, have in common? All three have become prominent social entrepreneurs – hands-on philanthropists seeking new solutions to global ills. And all three are now invested in a Calgary company called Benevity, whose mission is to “help the world’s most iconic brands bring their purpose to life.” Benevity...

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ESG BS Detector: Do new “green” funds support the carbon transition?

BlackRock Launches Biggest ETF Ever – and It’s Green,” trumpeted Yahoo Finance. “BlackRock secures largest-ever ETF launch as green investing wave builds,” heralded the Financial Times. By the time the world’s largest investment house unveiled its U.S. Carbon Transition Readiness ETF (LCTU) in early April, investors had poured a cool US$1.25 billion into it. That didn’t just make it the largest launch of any ESG-aligned...

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Seeds of dissent

At the border of India’s capital city, New Delhi, temperatures are soaring. As the heat inches above 40°C, farmers rallying against three agricultural reform laws passed by the government in November 2020 are still here, protesting. It has been more than six months since one of the biggest and most vibrant protests in human history began, but as a second, deadly wave of COVID-19 devastates the country, farmers are now battling the...

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Editor’s Note: Time for business to lead us to sunnier days

We grew up in the late ’80s associating corporations with Exxon Valdez, going to bed at night scared that every minute a football field of rainforest was being slaughtered. We grew up hearing how corporations were screwing up the world – our future. My university classmate and tennis nemesis Paul Fengler and I decided there had to be a better way. As we wrote in our first editor’s note on the release of our inaugural Best 50...

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Corporate knights are all around us

When Corporate Knights published its first list of Canada’s Best 50 Corporate Citizens in 2002, there was no Paris Agreement. There was little in the way of sustainable investing, few protocols for measuring the social and environmental impacts of businesses, no Greta Thunberg. (Literally: she was born in 2003.) In 2002, the Republicans were running Washington and gutting the Clean Air Act. In Ottawa, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien,...

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Top company profile: Hydro-Québec

Sophie Brochu was a couple of months into a long-awaited career sabbatical when the Hydro-Québec board asked her to consider taking the top job at the public utility. After 30 years in the energy sector, including most recently as president and CEO at Énergir (formerly Gaz Métro), Brochu had planned to split her time between studying in Paris and teaching in Montreal. But it was the start of the global pandemic and Brochu felt a...

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Are corporations getting trapped in net zero?

In a hopeful sign that the world is finally getting serious about tackling climate change, we’re seeing a raft of net-zero-carbon pledges from countries, investors, cities and corporations – even oil companies. More than 100 countries have either set or are considering commitments of carbon neutrality, with most – like Canada – aiming for a 2050 net-zero target date. They are joined by more than 800 cities, including Toronto,...

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Why are Canadian pensions risking our future by funding fossil fuel expansion?

Canada’s 10 largest pension funds now have nearly $1.9 trillion in assets under management, a pool of capital approaching the size of Canada’s entire annual GDP. How these pensions decide to invest their funds is a major factor in how quickly Canada –  and the world – can achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global heating to 1.5℃ or less. But despite their recent signs of progress on climate risk analysis and...