University of Montreal divests from fossil fuels

Credit: Amélie Philibert, Université de Montréal

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UdeM’s Endowment Fund will divest from all investments, direct or indirect, in publicly traded companies engaged in fossil fuels by December 31, 2025.

After several months of work on divestment from fossil fuels, the University of Montreal’s administration has presented its plan to the university’s governing bodies. By December 31, 2025, UdeM’s Endowment Fund will divest from all investments, direct or indirect, in publicly traded companies engaged in fossil fuels. This commitment sets our university firmly on the path to sustainable development.

The Endowment Fund is the result of the university’s philanthropic activities and is used primarily to support research and scholarships. The total value of the Fund was an estimated $420 million at December 31, 2021, with fossil fuel investments accounting for four per cent of its portfolio.

“With today’s announcement, which builds on the University’s responsible investing decisions of recent years, I think we can say that our institution is on the right track,” said Rector Daniel Jutras. “Our commitments reaffirm our desire to reduce our carbon footprint, but above all they send a strong signal that the University of Montreal is determined to make meaningful changes for sustainable development.”

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change underscores the urgency of climate action. Divesting from fossil fuels is not only the environmentally responsible thing to do; it is also a symbolic and political move. “We must not lose sight of the influence we have in society as a community of thinkers, teachers, scientists and students with bright futures,” said Jutras. “By divesting from hydrocarbons, the University is leading by example and coming down on the side of the science, which is imploring humanity to accelerate the energy transition.”

Last year, UdeM released an ambitious strategic plan that revolves around the theme of change. The section of the plan on the University’s social responsibility states: “The University of Montreal wants its development to be sustainable for the environment and for society, and its choices to be consistent with this ideal.”

Sustainable development will be the cornerstone of this vision for the next 10 years. Divestment from fossil fuels will not be the last time UdeM dares to change in order to be greener, Rector Jutras added.

With this announcement, UdeM joins other influential universities in North America that are divesting from the oil industry.

Responsible investing

The University of Montreal has made a number of responsible investing decisions in recent years. It has long adhered to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment, which promote consideration of environmental, social and governance factors. In 2021, the University committed to reducing the weighted average carbon intensitý of the publicly traded stocks held directly or indirectly by its Endowment Fund by 20% by 2025 and 35% by 2030. 

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