McGill signs responsible investment charter

As part of the coordinated fight against climate change, 15 Canadian universities commit to environmentally responsible investment practices.

Climate change is a dire threat to life on Earth – and a complex issue that requires a global, comprehensive and coordinated plan of actions at every level of society. In recognition of the severity of climate change, and the grave urgency to take action, McGill has joined a group of 15 leading universities across Canada uniting in signing a charter that pledges to follow responsible investment practices.

“Climate change is now recognized as the defining challenge facing humanity, already leading to profound social, economic and environmental changes in Canada and around the world,” said Principal Suzanne Fortier. “McGill recognizes and embraces the unique responsibility of universities to support societies in their transition toward sustainability, by generating the knowledge needed to create a more sustainable future, as well as cultivating citizens and leaders who have the skills and commitment to put that knowledge into practice.”

By signing Investing to Address Climate Change: A Charter for Canadian Universities, McGill and its fellow signatories commit to:

  1. Adopting a responsible Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing framework to guide investment decision-making, in line with recognized standards such as the UN Principles of Responsible Investing (UN-PRI)
  2. Regularly measuring the carbon intensity of investment portfolios, and setting meaningful targets for their reduction over time
  3. Evaluating progress towards these objectives on a regular basis, and sharing the results of such assessments publicly
  4. Ensuring that the performance evaluation of their investment managers takes into account their success in achieving such objectives, alongside the normal criteria for assessing their performance

These commitments, notes Principal Fortier, are in line with McGill’s existing “ambitious plan of actions that involves its investments, academic mission, operations, governance and management.” In April 2020, for example, McGill’s Board of Governors approved a series of measures and timelines to accelerate the responsible decarbonisation of the McGill Investment Pool, including removing investments from highly carbon intensive companies.

Joining McGill as initial signatories of the Charter are the University of Toronto, McMaster University, Université de Montréal, University of British Columbia, Queen’s University, Dalhousie University, Simon Fraser University, University of Guelph, University of Victoria, Université Laval, University of Waterloo, University of Ottawa, Western University, and the University of Manitoba.

An advisory board, which includes former governor of the Bank of Canada and Bank of England Mark Carney, will review the Charter periodically and share expertise on evolving investment practices. The board will also join the signatories in a biennial conference.