McGill achieves Socially Responsible Investing targets two years ahead of schedule

Board of Governors initiates strategic review to set new targets and realize an even greater impact

McGill University has achieved the performance targets set out in its Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) strategy, a full two years ahead of schedule. This milestone is highlighted in the 2022 Investment Committee Report on Socially Responsible Investing, presented yesterday to the McGill Board of Governors. This is the third annual report since the Board of Governors approved the five-year, eight-point implementation plan for decarbonizing the University’s endowment portfolio in April 2020.

“In realizing our sustainable investing objectives, we have made a material environmental impact that supports the University’s commitment to fighting climate change and achieving carbon neutrality by 2040,” explained Sophie Leblanc, McGill’s Chief Investment Officer & Treasurer. “In only three years, the carbon footprint of the University’s investment portfolio has been cut in half, eliminating approximately 73,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.”

An important focus of the SRI strategy has been to significantly divest holdings in the world’s most carbon-intensive companies and industries, including fossil fuel producers, cement and steel manufacturers, coal and gas-fired electricity generators and others that drive global fossil fuel consumption and demand. In fact, today less than one per cent of the McGill Investment Pool (MIP) includes exposure to the fossil fuel companies listed in the Carbon Underground 200.

Other notable achievements outlined in the annual report include:

  • Carbon emissions of the MIP equity investments are now 36.6% below emissions generated by companies in the public equities benchmark, surpassing the five-year target of 33% below benchmark.
  • More than $140 million of the endowment is now dedicated to impact investments, made with the intention of generating positive environmental impact, including $30 million committed to a Private Equity Impact Fund in 2022 to help transition to a sustainable future. This represents 7.8% of the total MIP, surpassing the 5% target.
  • In 2022, McGill received $4 million in donor commitments for the Fossil Free Fund, which will be invested alongside the $8.7M already in the fund.
  • McGill’s application to the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) has been accepted, and the inaugural reporting cycle will be completed in 2023.

The full 2022 Investment Committee Report on Socially Responsible Investing, along with other related materials, can be found on the McGill Office of Investments website.

During its review of the SRI progress report at its April 20 meeting, the McGill Board of Governors resolved to build on the important progress achieved to date by accelerating the timeline to review the SRI strategy.

“We’re incredibly pleased that the initial targets were reached two years earlier than planned. However, the Board of Governors also recognizes that more needs to be done,” said Maryse Bertrand, Chair of the Board of Governors. “That is why the Board has initiated a review of the SRI strategy with the aim of setting ambitious new targets that will make an even greater impact.”

The review will be led by the Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility (CAMSR) and a report stemming from the review, with any further recommendations, will be presented to the Board of Governors by the end of the 2023 calendar year.

Learn more on McGill Office of Investments website.

Read the Q&A with Sophie Leblanc