10 Best ESG ETFs In Canada (Dec 2022): Environmental Investing

Socially responsible investing is becoming mainstream among Canadian investors. As of 2021, 77% of Canadian investors are interested in responsible and ethical investing.

Responsible investing is more than supporting companies that respect the environment. There’s a whole range of values that firms address while still increasing value for investors.

My guide to the best ESG ETFs in Canada will show you how to gain some peace of mind by allocating your money to ESG assets.

What Are ESG ETFs?

ESG stands for environmental, social, and governance, and it’s an investing philosophy that emphasizes building wealth while aligning with your personal values.

An ESG ETF allows you to invest in a portfolio of ESG-rated companies without having to pick the stocks yourself.

The Best ESG ETFs In Canada

Traditional ESG was based on excluding companies whose products might be controversial, like fossil fuels. Today’s ESG investment products take a more holistic perspective.

For instance, an oil and gas company can make sense as part of an ESG fund if its leaders are working towards minimizing their carbon footprint and meeting other sustainability goals.

Here is a list of some of the best ESG ETFs in Canada that you can consider.

1. iShares ESG Advanced MSCI Canada Index ETF (XCSR)

ishares logo
  • Ticker: XCSR.TO
  • Inception Date: April 15, 2020
  • Assets Under Management: $137.16 million
  • Management Expense Ratio: 0.17%
  • Stock Price: $57.28
  • YTD Return: -9.72%

iShares ESG Advanced MSCI Canada Index ETF (XCSR) is a fund that provides you with exposure to the performance of an ESG-oriented index selected at the discretion of the fund manager BlackRock. XCSR ETF currently follows the MSCI Canada IMI Choice ESG Screened 10% Issuer Capped Index.

Investing in XCSR ETF is a way to invest in a basket of large-,mid-, and small-cap Canadian equity securities with a high ESG rating. XCSR ETF is a low-cost fund with an MER of 0.16%.

Its top holding is Royal Bank of Canada, with a 10.31% asset allocation. The Toronto Dominion accounts for 9.49% of its asset allocation, and Bank of Nova Scotia accounts for 7.04% of its asset allocation.

2. BMO MSCI Canada ESG Leaders Index ETF (ESGA)

BMO logo
  • Ticker: ESGA.TO
  • Inception Date: January 15, 2020
  • Assets Under Management: $91.08 million
  • Management Expense Ratio: 0.17%
  • Stock Price: $32.28
  • YTD Return: -9.63%

BMO MSCI Canada ESG Leaders Index ETF (ESGA) is another Canadian equity ETF that seeks to provide you with investment returns while aligning with ESG criteria.

The fund offers you investment returns by tracking the performance of Canadian equity securities as they are held in the MSCI Canada ESG Leaders Index, net of expenses.

Investing in ESGA ETF offers you exposure to Canadian companies that have higher ESG ratings than their peers, based on the MSCI group’s assessment. ESGA ETF is another low-cost ETF that comes with an MER of 0.17%.

3. iShares ESG Aware MSCI Canada Index ETF (XESG)

ishares logo
  • Ticker: XESG.TO
  • Inception Date: March 18, 2019
  • Assets Under Management: $191.14 million
  • Management Expense Ratio: 0.18%
  • Stock Price: $24.39
  • YTD Return: -2.36%

iShares ESG Aware MSCI Canada Index ETF (XESG) offers you investment returns by tracking the performance of the MSCI Canada IMI Extended ESG Focus Index, net of expenses.

Investing in XESG ETF offers you exposure to a portfolio of large-, mid-, and small-cap Canadian equity securities as they are held in the underlying index. XESG ETF is a low-cost fund with a 0.17% MER.

Its top three holdings include TD Bank (6.05% asset allocation), Royal Bank of Canada (5.83% asset allocation), and Bank of Nova Scotia (5.47% asset allocation).

4. Desjardins RI Canada – Low CO2 Index ETF (DRMC)

Desjardins Logo
  • Ticker: DRMC.TO
  • Inception Date: September 27, 2018
  • Assets Under Management: $23.59 million
  • Management Expense Ratio: 0.29%
  • Stock Price: $24.51
  • YTD Return: -7.02%

Desjardins RI Canada – Low CO2 Index ETF (DRMC) tracks the performance of the Scientific Beta Desjardins Canada RI Low Carbon Index, net of expenses.

DRMC ETF offers you exposure to 61 Canadian equity securities as they are held in the underlying index. DRMC is an actively-managed fund that comes with a 0.29% MER.

Its top three holdings include TD Bank (13.79% asset allocation), Canadian National Railway Co. (10.27% asset allocation), and Bank of Nova Scotia (8.56% asset allocation).

5. BMO MSCI USA ESG Leaders Index ETF (ESGY)

BMO logo
  • Ticker: ESGY.TO
  • Inception Date: January 15, 2020
  • Assets Under Management: $1.8 Billion
  • Management Expense Ratio: 0.22%
  • Stock Price: $37.62
  • YTD Return: -9.96%

BMO MSCI USA ESG Leaders Index ETF (ESGY) is a Canada-listed fund, but it tracks the performance of US-listed equity securities as they are held in the MSCI USA ESG Leaders Index, net of expenses.

The underlying fund invests in publicly-traded US companies with higher MSCI ESG ratings than their peers.

ESGY ETF is a relatively higher-cost ETF with an MER of 0.22%. The fund’s top three holdings include Microsoft Corp. (10.90% asset allocation), Tesla Inc. (4.40% asset allocation), and Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL) (3.86% asset allocation).

6. BMO MSCI EAFE ESG Leaders Index ETF (ESGE)

BMO logo
  • Ticker: ESGE.TO
  • Inception Date: January 16, 2020
  • Assets Under Management: $61.09 million
  • Management Expense Ratio: 0.28%
  • Stock Price: $28.83
  • YTD Return: -9.11%

BMO MSCI EAFE ESG Leaders Index ETF (ESGE) tracks the performance of the MSCI EAFE ESG Leaders Index.

The fund holds securities as they are held by the underlying fund. ESGE ETF tracks the performance of companies in developed equity markets, excluding Canadian and US-based companies.

ESGE ETF is a relatively higher-cost ETF with a 0.28% MER. It currently holds 403 equity securities. Its top three investments include ASML Holding NV (3.31% asset allocation), Roche Holding (3.18% asset allocation), and Astrazeneca (2.74% asset allocation).

7. iShares ESG Advanced MSCI USA Index ETF (XUSR)

ishares logo
  • Ticker: XUSR.TO
  • Inception Date: April 15, 2020
  • Assets Under Management: $131.46 million
  • Management Expense Ratio: 0.22%
  • Stock Price: $54.65
  • YTD Return: -11.82%

iShares ESG Advanced MSCI USA Index ETF (XUSR) is another US-equity fund listed on the Canadian stock exchange. The fund seeks to provide you with investment returns by tracking the performance of large- and mid-cap US equity securities that meet a minimum standard for ESG attributes.

The fund invests in US-listed equity securities as they are held by the MSCI USA Choice ESG Screened Index, net of expenses.

XUSR ETF comes with an MER of 0.22%, and it invests in a total of almost 350 US-listed large- and mid-cap stocks.

Its top three holdings include Microsoft Corp. (12.35% asset allocation), Nvidia Corp. (2.90% asset allocation), and VISA Inc Class A (2.12% asset allocation).

8. iShares ESG Aware MSCI USA Index ETF (XSUS)

ishares logo
  • Ticker: XSUS.TO
  • Inception Date: March 18, 2019
  • Assets Under Management: $93.25 million
  • Management Expense Ratio: 0.23%
  • Stock Price: $28.85
  • YTD Return: -9.99%

iShares ESG Aware MSCI USA Index ETF (XSUS) is a US equity fund listed on the Canadian stock market. The fund seeks to provide you with investment returns while tracking the performance of large and mid-cap US-listed equity securities that have positive ESG characteristics.

The fund chooses its underlying assets as they are held by the MSCI USA Extended ESG Focus Index.

XSUS ETF comes with an MER of 0.23%, and it invests in over 320 US-listed publicly-traded companies. Its top three holdings include Apple Inc. (7.25% asset allocation), Microsoft Corp. (5.80% asset allocation), and Amazon.com (3.41% asset allocation).

9. Desjardins RI USA Multifactor – Low CO2 ETF (DRFU)

Desjardins Logo
  • Ticker: DRFU.TO
  • Inception Date: September 27, 2018
  • Assets Under Management: $123.13 million
  • Management Expense Ratio: 0.57%
  • Stock Price: $26.75
  • YTD Return: -6.73%

Desjardins RI USA Multifactor – Low CO2 ETF (DRFU) invests in and holds US-listed equity securities that offers better ESG ratings than its peers.

DRFU ETF accomplishes that goal by investing in US-listed equities as they are held by the Scientific Beta Desjardins United States RI Low Carbon Multifactor Index.

DRFU ETF is a costlier fund than all of the others on this list, with an MER of 0.62%. The fund invests in over 210 companies, and its top three investments include Apple Inc. (1.53% asset allocation), Synopsys Inc (1.50% asset allocation), and Intuit Inc. (1.43% asset allocation).

10. Desjardins RI USA – Low CO2 Index ETF (DRMU)

Desjardins Logo
  • Ticker: DRMU.TO
  • Inception Date: September 27, 2018
  • Assets Under Management: $95.82 million
  • Management Expense Ratio: 0.29%
  • Stock Price: $28.68
  • YTD Return: -10.69%

Desjardins RI USA – Low CO2 Index ETF (DRMU) a fund that selects its investments to track the Scientific Beta Desjardins United States RI Low Carbon Index.

The fund invests in over 320 US-listed equity securities, and it comes with an MER of 0.29%. The fund’s top three holdings include Apple Inc. (10.01% asset allocation), Microsoft Corp. (8.45% asset allocation), and Amazon.com Inc. (5.06% asset allocation).

What Is An ESG Fund?

ESG funds are portfolios of equity securities and fixed-income assets like bonds for which the fund manager considers environmental, social, and governance factors during the investment process.

It means that the underlying assets held by an ESG fund have passed rigorous testing to meet the sustainability parameters necessary to give them a qualifying ESG rating.

How To Buy ESG ETFs In Canada

The cheapest way to buy ETFs is from discount brokers. My top choices in Canada are:

Readers Choice
Qtrade
  • 105 commission-free ETFs to buy and sell
  • Excellent customer service
  • Top-notch market research tools
  • Easy-to-use and stable platform 
Low Fees
Wealthsimple Trade
  • Stock and ETF buys and sells have $0 trading fees
  • Desktop and mobile trading
  • Reputable fintech company
  • Fractional shares available
Well-Rounded
Questrade
  • ETF buys have $0 trading fees
  • Excellent market research tools
  • Most types of registered accounts available

To learn more, check out my full breakdown of the best trading platforms in Canada.

Conclusion

Best ESG ETFs In Canada

Canadian investors who want to make a difference with their investments now have the opportunity to deploy their capital and allocate it to sustainable investment products.

If you are bullish on a greener future to provide you with superior long-term investment returns, the clean energy industry is another area you could explore.

Check out my guide to the best clean energy ETFs in Canada to view the funds that you could consider investing in for this purpose. If you’re not sure that these types of ETFs are right for you, here’s a guide on the best ETFs in Canada.

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Author Bio - Christopher Liew is a CFA Charterholder with 11 years of finance experience and the creator of Wealthawesome.com. Read about how he quit his 6-figure salary career to travel the world here.

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