Couple looking at mountains

Sustainable Finance

Our Definition and Approach

Sustainable finance means taking ESG factors into consideration in our role as a responsible, Alberta-based financial institution. 

As an important source of both traditional and renewable energy sector capital in Alberta, ATB recognizes the opportunity to continue enabling a responsible transition to sustainable energy in our province. This means supporting clients who are navigating this transition within their existing operations, while also providing capital to those innovating in this space.

We are committed to developing sustainable lending and investment products and services, while also being a trusted advisor for our clients and a catalyst for growth by encouraging the innovation and adoption of sustainable practices and technologies, and renewable energy.

Our Role and the Future of Sustainable Finance

This past year has seen ATB join and contribute to the Sustainable Finance Action Council (SFAC). Our focus has been on providing an Alberta-based perspective regarding the role financial institutions will play by offering products and services that enable a sustainable future for people and the planet.

The SFAC is a group of 25 banks, insurance firms and major pension providers whose work will influence what sustainable finance looks like in Canada.

The council will bring together public and private sector financial expertise to support the growth of a strong, well-functioning and sustainable finance market. Financial sector leaders will provide input on the foundational market infrastructure needed. A stable, reliable and sustainable finance market in Canada would boost investor confidence and drive economic growth. 

These conversations have similar themes and challenges. Western Canada—and Alberta specifically—must create a new, strong and unbiased narrative about our contributions and commitment to Canada.

We must align on a responsible transition for our energy sector and find a path that leads to both job creation and prosperity.

As a leading Alberta institution and participant in these national-level conversations, we will actively lean into the creation of this new narrative. Ultimately, a strong Alberta will mean a strong Canada.

Work Already Underway

ATB recognizes that a global energy evolution is taking place and that we are showing leadership by working with current energy sector customers as they innovate. This includes financing low-bleed methane gas pumps, participating in the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line pipeline and providing financing for projects that advance more environmentally friendly ways of transporting crude by rail. 

We are also working to solidify our position as a provider of capital in the emerging renewable energy market. ATB’s support for renewable energy projects includes providing financing for solar farms, hydroelectric projects and wind farms in Alberta.

ESG Analysis in Capital Markets

Team members at ATB’s Capital Markets, our full-service investment dealer, have continued to become accredited by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). Financial data alone represents an incomplete picture of how an organization manages sustainability issues, and SASB training has enabled team members to further incorporate financial metrics into their ESG analysis. 

The capital markets group also produced an inaugural report kicking off the implementation of ESG analytics. The report introduces ATBesg—ATB’s ESG analysis that begins with SASB standards—but also incorporates recommendations in respect of governance criteria from the CFA Institute and the International Corporate Governance Network (ICGN). The report provides access to valuable ESG institutional research and insights.

Resource Management

Our Definition and Approach

ATB endeavours to support the efficient use of resources in our operations and partnerships. This means encouraging the adoption of sustainable technologies, renewable energy, low carbon transition and zero waste principles.

We also recognize the value of having a robust framework or process in place to determine the impacts of resource management, consumption and emissions beyond the walls of our own operations. This presents an opportunity to enhance our strong system of governance by incorporating and addressing these impacts.

2021 Carbon Footprint Study

We conducted our eighth carbon assessment, covering the 2021 calendar year. Our first assessment was conducted in 2008 and we have been completing them annually since 2017.

Understanding the carbon footprint associated with our operations is critical to identifying areas where we can make meaningful change, like optimizing consumption and reducing overall emissions. Examples include our branch retrofit projects—which used LED lighting and automated temperature controls to reduce electricity consumption—and the recent branch recommissioning upgrades discussed below. 

Actions taken as a result of these assessments have resulted in a reduction of approximately 39% in total emissions between 2014 and 2019 (pre-pandemic).

While our overall emissions fell an additional 17% from our previous reporting period, we recognize that much of this is a result of a shift in our operations throughout the pandemic, with a large portion of our team members working remotely, avoiding emissions associated with usage of ATB spaces, commuting and business travel as examples.

We are committed to continuously improving our practices regarding responsible consumption and the reduction of emissions related to our operations. An overview of our Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions can be found in the environment scorecard section included in this report.  

Recommissioning Analysis and Upgrades

In 2021, we began a recommissioning project, targeting buildings that show a high rate of energy consumption.

Using a data-driven approach, two ATB locations were identified as good candidates for a pilot program. Activities included:

  • A review of energy data through invoicing, building location and archetype, and then determining if any anomalies existed.
  • A review of HVAC settings through building automation systems and thermal scans to identify any insulation concerns.
  • Finding an optimal setup between industry-recognized standards and increased efficiency in consumption, while ensuring our team members have a comfortable environment to work in. 

As more data is collected, we will better understand the impact of these pilots and prioritize additional recommissioning projects. 

Ducks Unlimited Canada Land Reclamation Update

Our partnership with Ducks Unlimited Canada resulted in the creation of the ATB Financial Legacy Fund. This fund provides for the purchase of lands through the Revolving Land Conservation Program. Other funds may be used to restore the land for waterfowl and other wildlife and for diverse ecosystem services, including carbon storage and nutrient removal. 

Typically, this means that drained wetlands are restored and grasslands are rejuvenated. The lands purchased and restored through this partnership have a significant impact on avoided emissions and on carbon sequestration (carbon sinks) and storage. A key fundamental of this program is also aimed at ensuring agricultural lands are being used responsibly.

Ducks in water

Since 2017, the ATB Financial Legacy Fund has been used to secure 11,900 acres across 37 projects in Alberta. Of the 244,001 tonnes of carbon stored, 26,933 tonnes were sequestered and 217,068 tonnes were avoided emissions. 

Other notable figures include:

  • 80,597 kilograms per year of nitrogen filtration
  • 8,140 kilograms per year of phosphorus filtration
  • 2.1 million cubic metres of water storage

Two new projects were purchased in 2021, representing more than 300 acres and 45 intact wetland habitats.

Renewable Energy

Our commitment to renewable energy hasn’t wavered and, as in previous years, we used the savings from our power bill to buy renewable energy certificates (RECs) equivalent to 12,000 megawatts of electricity.

We continue to operate the electric vehicle (EV) charging stations that were installed at our Calgary Campus location. The need for additional charging infrastructure is assessed through team member surveys, and we will use this data as the basis for future EV charging station projects.  

Reducing Paper Consumption

We continue to leverage DocuSign’s digital signing technology in an effort to reduce paper consumption. 

The 250,970 digital envelopes sent via DocuSign during the 2021 calendar year have saved:

  • 68,820 kilograms of wood, or roughly 428 trees
  • 1,476,235 litres of water
  • 33,177 kilograms of solid waste
  • 475,541 kilograms of carbon emissions 

Climate Resilience

Our Definition and Approach

Climate resilience means having processes in place to identify, assess and manage physical and transition risks and opportunities related to climate change in our operations and in our business.

ATB seeks purposeful opportunities to support those who are advancing environmental stewardship within Alberta through our products and services, investments and partnerships. 

Our CSR policy—originally approved by the Board in 2018—sets out ATB’s commitment to minimize negative environmental impact. 

Key practices include:

  • Adhering to all environmental practices set out in municipal, provincial and federal requirements and certifying to the Board quarterly that environmental compliance obligations have been met.
  • Identifying opportunities to invest in organizations working to steward Alberta’s environment.
  • Supporting sustainability through corporate banking expertise.
  • Measuring and reporting on ATB’s own environmental impact, while actively seeking to reduce the business’s footprint.
  • Conducting enterprise efforts focused on carbon footprint assessments and best practices.    

ATB considers climate-related risk to be a key risk category, and it is among the risks considered in ATB’s Risk Appetite Statement and Risk Management Framework. Continuing to develop our climate risk measurement capabilities will inform the steps we take to advance the integration of climate risks into our policies and procedures.

A still pond surrounded by plants

Significant climate-related risks at ATB stem from the physical and transition impacts of climate change. They are highly connected to ATB’s other risk categories, both financial and non-financial.

Climate risks

Climate risks are the risks of a possible financial loss or reputational damage resulting from the physical, transition and liability impacts of climate change. 

Transition risks

Transition risks are the financial and reputational risks to ATB and our clients stemming from the economic, political, legal and technology changes expected to occur as society transitions to a lower-carbon economy to address climate change. ATB is closely monitoring industry practices to inform the selection of reasonable methodologies and appropriate time horizons to enhance ongoing risk identification and assessment practices.

Physical risks

Physical risks are risks caused by events such as severe weather and longer-term shifts in climate patterns, such as chronic drought, that may impact the financial performance of ATB or our clients directly, indirectly or through cascading effects.

Liability risks

Liability risks relate to potential exposure to the risks associated with climate-related litigation.

ATB’s current credit risk process includes an assessment of event-driven physical and liability risks—particularly for certain high-risk industries and/or geographical sectors. We are currently developing a comprehensive set of tools and guidance documents to identify and assess more chronic physical risks. 

ATB supports the reporting framework developed by the TCFD and is focused on building capabilities to effectively integrate climate change considerations into our existing risk management practices across all business lines, as well as assets and liabilities classes.  

ATB is building out climate-related scenario analysis, including stress-testing capabilities, to capture physical and transition climate risk–related issues and potential implications for the organization. The results of ongoing scenario analysis will continue to inform ATB’s identification, assessment, management and disclosure of climate-related risks and further development of ATB’s climate risk management program.