May 21, 2021

BMO gift to Haskayne enables energy transition and sustainable finance research

Gift of $500,000 establishes the BMO Sustainable and Transition Finance Professorship
Dr. Yrjo Koskinen
Dr. Yrjo Koskinen is the new BMO Professor in Sustainable and Transition Finance Kelly Hofer for the Haskayne School of Business

A titanic shift is occurring in the global economy. World governments have pledged to reach net-zero carbon emissions in fewer than 30 years. Canada is planning to cut its greenhouse gas emissions faster than first promised, announcing its intention last month to cut emissions by 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

But renewable energy is not enough. Even with advances in research, innovation and adoption of renewables, they will not get the world to the net-zero commitments in the Paris Agreement. High-carbon industries need to be a part of the transition, while providing the world the energy and materials necessary to meet current and future needs. Finance is needed to make necessary progress toward climate goals.

Changing course — powered by knowledge

The BMO Professorship in Sustainable and Transition Finance was announced on May 20, 2021 at a panel discussion, Prosperity and Planet: Financing the Energy Transition, featuring Dr. Yrjo Koskinen, PhD, who is taking on this new role. The professorship has been established at the Haskayne School of Business through a generous gift of $500,000 from BMO and will delve into practical applications for oil and gas companies, investors, policymakers, bankers and investment managers, as well as academic research on these topics.

“As part of our commitment to sustainability and our recently announced Climate Ambition, BMO is focused on being a partner to our clients as they move toward a net zero future, while working with the communities in Canada that will be impacted by the energy transition,” says Dan Barclay, chief executive officer and group head, BMO Capital Markets. “We’ve always had strong ties to Calgary, the energy capital of Canada, and we are excited to continue to build on that relationship by investing in thought leadership at the University of Calgary.”

The professorship will create knowledge and share it. Research will be focused on financing instruments, valuations, risk management and corporate finance practices that can help facilitate energy transition. Koskinen is on the steering committee for the Canadian Sustainable Finance Network and has published in top management journals with his ESG research.

“Sustainable finance is a driving force that impacts access to capital, investor confidence and many other corporate finance issues,” says Koskinen. “This is the transformation of our generation and we will be equipping those working in and with the resource sector to capture the opportunities.”

Koskinen’s cutting-edge research will be shared with future leaders in undergraduate and graduate courses that the professorship will help develop. Two community events per year will be held in partnership between the professorship and Haskayne’s Centre for Corporate Sustainability (CCS).

Committed to a new direction

BMO is committed to sustainability and has invested in initiatives across Canada, including gifts to Queen’s University and Concordia University. The gift to Haskayne broadens that commitment within a province where the financial services industry has largely been built around the needs of the energy sector.

In March 2021, BMO announced its climate ambition, including plans to build unique climate analytics capabilities to be its clients’ lead partner in the transition to a net zero world. As part of the announcement, the bank introduced the BMO Climate Institute, a multidisciplinary organization harnessing science, analytics powered by innovative technology and industry leading expertise to provide insights that will help clients achieve their climate goals. BMO has committed to deploying $300 billion in sustainable lending and underwriting by 2025.

At UCalgary, Koskinen is one of the eight authors for the university’s new energy research strategy where sustainable finance and business have a prominent place.

In recent years, topics that were once largely relegated to the sidelines — such as corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues — are now foundational to business strategy.

“Through this professorship, we will push the boundaries of knowledge in the field, connect with the business community and truly make an impact in one of the most pressing issues facing Alberta and Canada today,” says Jim Dewald, dean, Haskayne School of Business. “My heartfelt thank you to BMO Financial Group for its generous support of this new professorship.”