UW Investments

Kicking UW’s Fossil Fuel Investment Addiction

In the fall of 2017, the University of Waterloo disclosed some of its current investments in the top 200 fossil fuel companies in the world, as well as its investments specifically in companies active in the tar sands.

We are grateful to the University of Waterloo for sharing this – we hope the administration will continue to share investment information with us so we can see where our money is going!

Here is what we know and what we are still working to find out – and how you can help!

What we know so far:

  • Based on this partial disclosure, we know that at least $68 million of the university’s investments are in the fossil fuel sector.
    • The university disclosed only the fossil fuel investments in the equity (stocks) portion of its portfolio, which is just under half of the overall combined pension/endowment fund. Of that, 7.24% – $68 million – is invested in the top 200 global fossil fuel companies, and about 5% in tar sands companies (with some overlap) (See Figure 1)
    • These fossil fuel companies include BP, Total, Exxon/Imperial Oil and Royal Dutch Shell – not only known heavy CO2 emitters but companies responsible for human rights violations,[1] massive oil spills,[2] and corrupt practices[3],[4] — while some participated in decades-long climate-denial campaigns.[5] (For more detail on the companies in which UW is investing our money see Figure 2.)
    • The University of Waterloo’s claim that only 3.5% of the portfolio is invested in the energy sector is misleading. At the Town Hall on November 14, 2017, it was reported that just 3.5% is invested in the “energy sector.”[6] However, based on the incomplete information we have to date, we know that this figure underestimates the university’s fossil fuel investments.

Figure 1. University of Waterloo’s Investment Portfolio Highlighting Holdings in Top 200 Global Fossil Fuel Companies as of May 8, 2017

Figure 2. Disclosed UW Investments in the Top 200 Fossil Fuel Companies as of May 8, 2017

 What’s the big deal? When the university invests in fossil fuel companies, it is depending on these companies to make money from continue extracting fossil fuels. Investing in fossil fuel companies means the university is supporting this sector, and profiting from it.

It would be easy to divest these investments. These are directly held stocks, which the university could sell at any time – they aren’t buried in a complex package of investments.

Here’s what we don’t know:

  • All the rest!
  • We have no information about the rest of our equity investments (light blue section from Figure 1) other than they are not top 200 global fossil fuel companies. Funds could be invested Top 300 global fossil fuel companies, for instance.
  • We have no information about the non-equity (red portion of Figure 1). These funds could be invested in anything, including Top 200 Fossil Fuel companies.

How you can help:

#1. Gather information on the fossil fuel companies our university is supporting through its investments.

Here’s the list of companies that we know UW is invested in:

BP, Devon Energy, Seven Generations, China P&C, Cenovus Energy, Royal Dutch Shell, Tourmaine Oil, Crescent Point, Total SA, Exxon/Imperial Oil, Lukoil, CNOOC, Cdn Natural Resources (CNR), EOG Resources, and Suncor.

We need your help to understand and expose the social and environmental injustices and climate obstructions are these companies involved in.

 For example:

  • Exxon is not only a long-time funder of climate denial – known for attacking climate science like that being conducted by University of Waterloo researchers – but it also has a history of terrible human rights abuses.[7]
  • CNR is number one when it comes to oil spills in Alberta.[8]

Can you add to this list?

#2. Tell the university to start divesting from fossil fuels. Sign our petition asking UW to divest at:


 #3. Join us in organizing this campaign!

Like us on FB to stay up to date: fb/.com/fossilfreeuwaterloo

Visit our website at fossilfreeuw.ca

Or email us to get involved: fossilfreeuw@wpirg.org


[1] Royal Dutch Shell: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/10/ken-saro-wiwa-father-nigeria-ogoniland-oil-pollution

[2] BP: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/29/business/international/bp-earnings-q2.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FGulf%20of%20Mexico%20Oil%20Spill%20(2010)&action=click&contentCollection=timestopics&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=25&pgtype=collection&_r=0

[3] Exxon/Imperial Oil: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/05/exxonmobil-investigation-climate-change-peabody

[4] Total SA: https://www.jdjournal.com/2013/05/30/total-to-pay-398-million-for-corrupt-practices/

[5] Cite “Organized Climate Change Denial” 2011 Riley E. Dunlap and Aaron M. McCright in The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society, Edited by John S. Dryzek, Richard B. Norgaard, and David Schlosberg… OR Hoggan and Littlemore 2009 Climate Change Cover-Up.

[6] President’s Town Hall Transcripts, November 14, 2017: https://uwaterloo.ca/president/town-hall

[7] Supran, Geoffrey, and Naomi Oreskes. “Assessing ExxonMobil’s climate change communications (1977–2014).” Environmental Research Letters 12.8 (2017): 084019.

[8] Global News, 2014, https://globalnews.ca/news/1703807/alberta-oil-spill-examining-cnrls-safety-record/