Supporting our ongoing objective to achieve the highest environmental, social and governance standards
MONTRÉAL, May 24, 2023 /CNW/ - Bell Canada (Bell) announced today that it has entered into its first Sustainability-Linked Derivatives (SLDs). The SLDs leverage Bell's ambitious key performance indicators (KPIs) designed to measure performance on environmental, social and governance (ESG) targets and underscores Bell's continued objective to achieve the highest ESG standards and our purpose to advance how Canadians connect with each other and the world.
"We're proud to announce our inaugural Sustainability-Linked Derivatives. This new initiative, combined with the publication of our first Integrated Annual Report earlier in March, demonstrates our focus on integrating sustainability within our financial performance and aligns with our ESG objectives to make a positive difference with our investments, supporting a more sustainable and prosperous future."
– Curtis Millen, SVP, Corporate Strategy & Treasurer, BCE and Bell
The SLDs introduce a pricing adjustment that increases the derivatives' cost based on Bell's performance towards its science-based target to reduce its operational GHG emissions (Scope 1 and 2) of 58% by 2030 from a 2020 base year with the Science Based Targets initiative1 (SBTi). Bell selected this Sustainability Performance Target (SPT) to support its objective to meet its science-based targets for GHG emissions reduction by tying performance with financial costs. The SPT will be measured as of 2030 and a limited assurance review of Bell's targets will be performed by an independent third party.
The SLDs follow the announcement of BCE's Sustainable Financing Framework in April 2021, Bell's inaugural $500 million Sustainability Bond offering in May 2021 with proceeds allocated to eligible green and social investments and the conversion of its $3.5 billion committed credit facilities to a Sustainability Linked-Loan (SLL) in November 2022.
Scotiabank and TD Securities acted as Lead Sustainability Structuring Advisors and Swap Arrangers for this transaction. BMO Capital Markets acted as Sustainability Advisor. CIBC Capital Markets, Desjardins Securities, National Bank Financial Markets, RBC Capital Markets and Wells Fargo were Sustainability Swap Providers in this transaction.
1 Our science-based targets (SBTs) have been recalculated to reflect restated GHG emissions for our 2020 base year, in line with Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) criteria and recommendations. The SBTi has approved our targets in 2022, prior to the recalculation. The recalculated targets will be submitted to SBTi in 2023 for approval. The SBTi requires that targets be recalculated (following the most recent applicable SBTi criteria and recommendations) at least every five years, or more often if significant changes occur (e.g., business acquisitions/divestments). As a result, our SBTs may need to be adjusted again in the future.
Environmental, social and governance performance
Bell's ESG objectives aim to create social and environmental benefits by helping to build a better world, better communities and a better workplace. Our approach focuses on enhancing our environmental sustainability programs to have a positive impact, creating a workplace focused on diversity, equality, inclusion and employee well-being, and leading in mental health through our Bell Let's Talk initiative.
In 2022, Bell maintained ISO 50001 certification of its energy management system for a third consecutive year, after becoming the first communications company in North America to achieve that designation for an Energy Management System and was named the inaugural Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reductions Champion by Clean502, a national sustainability organization. We announced our goal to have carbon neutral operations3 starting in 2025 and have been recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers4 for the seventh consecutive year.
Information about Bell's environmental initiatives and the benefits we deliver to our customers, team and communities, including our Bell for Better investments in mental health, environmental and workplace best practices, is in BCE's 2022 Integrated Annual Report available at BCE.ca.
A copy of BCE's Sustainable Financing Framework and further information on our sustainability strategy can be found at BCE.ca.
Bell is Canada's largest communications company5 providing advanced Bell broadband wireless, Internet, TV, media and business communications services. Founded in Montréal in 1880, Bell is wholly owned by BCE Inc. To learn more, please visit Bell.ca or BCE.ca.
Through Bell for Better, we are investing to create a better today and a better tomorrow by supporting the social and economic prosperity of our communities. This includes the Bell Let's Talk initiative, which promotes Canadian mental health with national awareness and anti-stigma campaigns like Bell Let's Talk Day and significant Bell funding of community care and access, research and workplace initiatives throughout the country. To learn more, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk
2 Bell was named the inaugural Clean50 GHG Reductions Champion for 2023, in recognition of Bell's performance between 2019 and 2022 in reducing our GHG intensity (CO2e per petabyte). Canada's Clean50 is primarily managed by Delta Management Group, a Canadian sustainability, ESG and cleantech focused search firm, and annually recognizes individuals, small teams and business for their contributions to sustainability in Canada.
3 Performance is based on operational GHG emissions (scope 1 and scope 2 emissions in tonnes of CO2e) minus GHG emissions offset by carbon credits purchased (in tonnes of CO2e). Scope 1 emissions are direct GHG emissions from sources that are controlled by Bell. Scope 2 emissions are indirect GHG emissions associated with the consumption of purchased electricity, heating/cooling and steam required by Bell's activities.
4 Canada's Top 100 Employers report is issued annually by Mediacorp. For more information, see: https://www.canadastop100.com/national/
5 Based on total revenue and total combined customer connections.
Caution Concerning Forward-Looking Statements
Certain statements made in this news release are forward-looking statements, including statements relating to our ESG objectives and commitments including, without limitation, our goal to achieve carbon neutral operations starting in 2025 and to achieve our science-based targets and SPT for GHG emissions reduction, our business outlook, objectives, plans and strategic priorities, and other statements that are not historical facts. All such forward-looking statements are made pursuant to the "safe harbor" provisions of applicable Canadian securities laws and of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are subject to inherent risks and uncertainties and are based on several assumptions which give rise to the possibility that actual results or events could differ materially from our expectations. These statements are not guarantees of future performance or events, and we caution you against relying on any of these forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements contained in this news release describe our expectations at the date of this news release and, accordingly, are subject to change after such date. Except as may be required by applicable securities laws, we do not undertake any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements contained in this news release, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Our ESG objectives and commitments, and the benefits expected to result therefrom, are subject to risks and, accordingly, there can be no assurance that our ESG objectives and commitments will be completed or that the benefits expected to result therefrom will be realized. In addition, forward-looking statements for periods beyond 2023 involve longer-term assumptions and estimates than forward-looking statements for 2023 and are consequently subject to greater uncertainty. In particular, our GHG emissions reduction and supplier engagement targets are based on a number of assumptions including, without limitation, the following principal assumptions: implementation of various corporate and business initiatives to reduce our electricity and fuel consumption, as well as reduce other direct and indirect GHG emissions enablers; no new corporate initiatives, business acquisitions, business divestitures or technologies that would materially change our anticipated levels of GHG emissions; our ability to purchase sufficient credible carbon credits and renewable energy certificates to offset or further reduce our GHG emissions, if and when required; no negative impact on the calculation of our GHG emissions from refinements in or modifications to international standards or the methodology we use for the calculation of such GHG emissions; no required changes to our science-based targets pursuant to the SBTi methodology that would make the achievement of our updated science-based targets more onerous or unachievable in light of business requirements; and sufficient supplier engagement and collaboration in setting their own science-based targets, no significant change in the allocation of our spend by supplier and sufficient collaboration with partners in reducing their own GHG emissions. For additional information on assumptions and risks underlying certain of our forward-looking statements made in this news release, please consult BCE Inc.'s (BCE) 2022 Annual MD&A dated March 2, 2023, BCE's 2023 First Quarter MD&A dated May 3, 2023, and BCE's news release dated May 4, 2023 announcing its financial results for the first quarter of 2023, filed by BCE with the Canadian provincial securities regulatory authorities (available at Sedar.com) and with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (available at SEC.gov). These documents are also available at BCE.ca.
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