2021 – Carbon Neutral Investment Strategy passes!
After six years, Fossil Free UW and allied groups are thrilled to see efforts to divest the University of Waterloo Endowment and Pension Funds from fossil fuels finally come to fruition.
On Tuesday, June 1st, the University of Waterloo’s Board of Governors – UW’s highest governing body – voted to pass a Carbon Neutral Investment Strategy. The Strategy emerged from a collaborative process undertaken by students, faculty, and Board members, through the new Responsible Investment Advisory Group, and has produced one of the most innovative decarbonization strategies to be developed by a Canadian academic institution. “For over six years, students, staff, and faculty have called on the University of Waterloo to align its investment practices with a climate-safe future. Today, our institution has finally committed to step away from fossil fuel investments, on the grounds that they are financially risky as well as the primary source of the climate crisis and its terrible human and ecological consequences. This decision aligns with the University’s reputation as an innovative environmental leader,” says University of Waterloo professor, Dr. Angela Carter.
Going beyond divestment, the strategy features several ambitious targets:
1. A 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.
2. 100% carbon neutrality in both its pension and endowment fund by 2040.
3. No material positions in fossil fuel exploration and extraction companies by 2025.
4. Climate-conscious reinvestment.
5. Annual disclosure of performance.
Read more in this press release.
2020 – Carbon-neutral INVESTMENT policy
Fossil fuels are almost guaranteed to become stranded assets by increasing restrictions on carbon emissions. Further, because the risks associated with the climate crisis threaten other investments, we support the move to make the Investment Fund carbon neutral. It is not only fossil fuel companies, and their associated infrastructure that are at risk from climate change. Investments in industries that might be exposed to climate risks, e.g. floods, fires, droughts, resource degradation, are also exposed. These include transport, utilities, agriculture, real estate, and water assets. What is needed is a holistic approach to divestment that would consider climate risk and carbon-related stranding of assets.
To accomplish this goal, Fossil Free UW presents the University of Waterloo Carbon-Neutral Investment Policy. This policy’s position has been endorsed by both the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association and the Graduate Student Association, and will be brought to the Board of Governors at the October Board Meeting.
2019 – UN Principles for Responsible Investments
The UW Board of Governors became a signatory of the UN Principles for Responsible Investments. On October 29, students gathered outside the UW Board Meeting to make sure the university follows the principles that state “Climate change is the highest priority ESG issue.” UW still holds at least $68 million in fossil fuel investments – we are waiting to see how the Board responds to the ESG climate expectation.
2019 – GLOBAL CLIMATE STRIKE
On Friday, September 27th, 1400 University of Waterloo students, staff and faculty marched to Uptown Waterloo, bringing the total to 5000 people who gathered for the Global Climate Strike. Across the planet, seven million people gathered, making it the largest global action to date to draw attention to the climate emergency we are facing.
2018 – RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENT WORKING GROUP PUBLISHES REPORT
University of Waterloo’s Responsible Investment Working Group (RIWG) published its report to the Board of Governors. None of them recommended the University divest its pension or endowment funds from fossil fuel companies. The report came a mere four days before the Board was expected to vote on its recommendations this Tuesday, June 5th.
Thanks to campus-wide efforts the report was amended to include a reference to climate change and the Board of Governors acknowledged that this was just a small first step in working towards eventual divestment.
2017 – Responsible Investment Working Group Consultations
Since May 2017, the RIWG, assembled by the UW Board of Governors to assess whether and how to integrate ESG considerations into UW’s investment decisions, has met several times — though it has not made any information regarding its progress public yet — and has made a call for comments from the UW community. All comments should be directed to the RIWG secretary, Mike Grivicic. To ensure this process is done with utmost accountability and that no voices are left unheard, we will continue actively engaging the working group as well as the greater campus community.
Fall 2016 – Environment, Social, and Governance guidelines
In response to the WESEF vote, the Investment and Finance Committee of the UW Board of Governors has struck a committee to draft guidelines on environment, social, and governance (ESG, in corporate social responsibility parlayance) for the University’s investments. They have been working on a Terms of Reference and designing a consultation strategy which Fossil Free will engage. In the meantime, we will continue working at the grassroots to build awareness, support, and action. Read about the ESG process in the Board’s minutes.
Winter 2016 – Faculty support divestment
In support of the WESEF decision, over 60 professors from every faculty at Waterloo wrote an open letter to the Board of Governors. Read more in the Imprint.
Fall 2015 – WESEF divestment vote
After organizing students in the Faculty of Environment over the preceding Winter and Spring terms, in November of 2015 the Waterloo Environment Students Endowment Fund (WESEF) voted unanimously (minus one abstention) to divest their funds at their Annual General Meeting. Because faculty endowment funds are not managed directly by their own Boards but by the University of Waterloo Board of Governors, this decision is pending enaction. Read more in the Imprint.