We complete materiality assessments on a regular basis to ensure our sustainability reporting is focused on the environmental, social and governance (or ESG) topics that are most material to our stakeholders and our business. Following the sale of our Canadian fossil fuel-based electricity generation business in 2019, in 2020 we worked with an external consultant to conduct a comprehensive review of our material topics. We engaged over 80 key internal and external stakeholders, including employees, investors, bondholders, customers, business partners, regulators, community members and Indigenous communities. Participants were asked to prioritize the most significant ESG issues and assess the impacts of these issues on our businesses, as well as ATCO’s ability to create a positive change.
As a result, nine key material topics were identified as most significant. Our sustainability reporting for 2020 is focused on these nine priority topics, supplemented with information from four additional subtopics.
We then organized our nine material topics into the following five categories (see below for descriptions):
- Energy Transition
- Climate Change & Environmental Stewardship
- Operational Reliability & Resilience
- Community & Indigenous Relations
Energy Transition and Innovation: Global climate goals require a transition to a low carbon economy, which implies a shift away from using fossil fuels. This category is about companies` efforts to promote and accelerate the energy transition, for example through products and services (e.g. hydrogen production), renewal/modernization of infrastructure (e.g. investments in smart grids, EVs, energy storage), enabling customer choice (e.g. energy efficiency options) and changes to the energy mix.
Climate Change & Environmental Stewardship
Climate Change and GHG Emissions: Companies can contribute to climate change both directly and indirectly; through greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from their own operations as well as GHG emissions from their suppliers and the use of company products/services.
Companies may be impacted by climate change, in terms of (i) physical impacts of climate change (e.g. extreme weather events/changing weather patterns affecting operations), and (ii) impacts of transitioning to a low carbon economy (e.g. policy/regulatory, technology, reputational, and market changes).
This category is about companies` GHG emissions track record (e.g. tCO2e), and efforts to mitigate both emissions and the risks associated with climate change (in terms of physical and transition risks).
Operational Reliability & Resilience
System Reliability and Availability: Utility companies are exposed to the risk of outages and system disruption, impacting the customers and communities they serve. This category is about companies` system reliability track record (e.g. power outage duration/frequency, natural gas supply availability), and efforts to ensure continued and reliable supply of energy (e.g. infrastructure improvement projects, (in-line) pipeline inspections).
Emergency Preparedness and Response: As a provider of essential services, emergency preparedness is critical to providing the reliable and efficient service that customers and communities depend on. This category is about efforts to prevent, respond to and recover from incidents and emergencies (incl. pandemic planning and continuity of service) and provide emergency response assistance to others (e.g. emergency response planning, logistics support).
Occupational Health and Safety: Companies are exposed to inherent safety risks, affecting employees and contractors –including both direct harm to people as well as the potential for indirect operational and financial consequences. This category is about companies` occupational health & safety track record (e.g. safety incident frequencies), and efforts to create and maintain a safe and healthy workplace environment for employees and contractors, that is free of injuries, fatalities, and illness (both chronic and acute), and considers aspects such as the mental health of workers.
Public Health and Safety: Companies operations and activities may present inherent safety risks to the public. This category is about companies` public health & safety track record (e.g. # incidents involving public), and efforts to reduce incidents involving the public (e.g. injury prevention programs and awareness campaigns).
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Companies, through their culture, hiring and promotion practices have an impact on the diversity of their workforce (e.g. in terms of gender / ethnicity / disability / spiritual beliefs / sexual orientation) and the respect for (equal) opportunities. This category is about companies` diversity, inclusion and equality track record (e.g. % women in leadership, % black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC)), and efforts to promote the same.
Community & Indigenous Relations
Community Engagement and Investment: Companies` activities can impact the communities in which they operate or stakeholder groups they serve. This category is about efforts to engage with and give back to community groups, including but not limited to: meaningful and authentic stakeholder engagement, community investments (e.g. corporate volunteering, sponsorships, donations, community support to workers affected by energy transition), economic participation (local content).
Indigenous Engagement, Economic Opportunity and Reconciliation: Companies` activities can impact Indigenous groups either directly (e.g. by having activities on First Nations, Inuit and Métis lands) or indirectly (e.g. impacts to traditional land use). This category is about efforts to facilitate meaningful and authentic engagement with Indigenous communities, and promotion of economic participation, education and employment opportunities, amongst others.