(Reuters) - Canadian companies that want to voluntarily reduce their environmental impact will now be able to buy offset credits from a fund that will invest in green projects across the country.
The Greening Canada Fund, the country's first voluntary carbon emissions reduction fund aimed at big business, was unveiled on Monday. It offers companies another way to reduce their carbon footprint by offsetting greenhouse gas emissions against environmentally friendly projects.
The fund will buy credits from green projects in the private, public and non-profit sectors around Canada, helping to finance ventures such as the installation of solar or geothermal heating. The credits from these will then be passed on to companies that invest in the fund.
Initial investors in the Greening Canada Fund, which is launching with C$13 million ($12.2 million) in its coffers, are Bank of Montreal and Toronto-Dominion Bank.
But the fund's manager said there has been interest from other companies although it doesn't expect to attract big industrial emitters who are waiting to see what eventual carbon emission regulations will demand of them.
"Realistically, in the voluntary space we would be happy to get to C$50 million in capital in Canada. That is certainly our goal," said Gerry Rocchi, chief executive of Green Power Action, an environmental finance company.
There are no federally mandated carbon emission limits yet in Canada, which is waiting for the United States to finalize its cap-and-trade program before it proceeds. Ottawa and the provinces are funding various green projects such carbon capture and storage, and wind energy.
Rocchi said companies are expected to be interested in the fund because "it is the right thing to do".
Although the fund is being launched by an organization called Greening Greater Toronto, which aims to make the area around Canada's biggest city the greenest region in North America, it is seeking investors and investment projects nationally.
(Reporting by Nicole Mordant; editing by Rob Wilson)