Canada banks lag Europeans' environment focus: report

Thu Mar 13, 2008 1:27pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian banks trail their European counterparts when it comes to specialized environmental products and services, and they should work to better harness growing public awareness of green issues, a new report said on Thursday.

European banks have tapped into consumer concern about global warming by offering retail banking products that incorporate climate-change mitigation measures, but Canadian banks have not shown the same innovation, said an annual report on Canadian banks, prepared by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

For example, British bank Barclays and Dutch bank Rabobank both offer "trailblazing" environmental credit cards that donate a hefty portion of profits to projects that counter climate change and offset carbon dioxide emissions, respectively, the PwC report said. Independent third parties administer these cards, which bolsters their credibility, it noted.

"It is this type of innovation and positioning Canadian banks need to develop and explore with their own products," the report stated.

When it comes to carbon emissions trading, Canadian banks are also laggards, the report said.

"The absence of a regulated carbon market in Canada today is partially responsible for creating a gap between Canadian banks and their global counterparts with respect to activity in the regulated and voluntary emissions markets."

European and U.S. financial institutions have gained experience from a European Union emissions trading scheme that started in 2005, PwC noted.

"Being one of the first to build trading capacity has translated into the top (largest) intermediary position in the carbon market for Barclays Capital," the report said.

"To date, few Canadian banks have even made public mention of positioning themselves for the realization of a regulated emissions trading market in Canada," PwC said.   Continued...