Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Dear Member of the University Community,
I am delighted to announce a major decision which is the culmination of several months of planning and effort: by December 31, 2025, the University of Montreal’s Endowment Fund will divest from all investments, direct or indirect, in publicly traded stocks in fossil fuel companies. This commitment sets our university firmly on the path to sustainable development.
Companies in the fossil fuel industry account for 4% of the Endowment Fund’s estimated $420 million portfolio. The Fund is used primarily to support research and scholarships.
Today’s announcement builds on the University’s responsible investing decisions of recent years. UdeM 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.
With these undertakings and today’s announcement, I think we can say that our institution is on the right track. 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.
Divesting from fossil fuels is not only the environmentally responsible thing to do; it is also a symbolic gesture and a political statement. As we know, all warning signs are flashing red. We need only look at the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to realize that the climate emergency is upon us and the consequences of inaction will be dire. But we must not lose sight of the influence we have in society as a community of thinkers, teachers, scientists and students with bright futures. By divesting from hydrocarbons, the University is leading by example and coming down on the side of science, which is imploring humanity to accelerate the energy transition.
Our society no longer has a choice: it must change and go green. And change is the keyword in the strategic plan we unveiled last fall. The section of the plan on 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 our vision for the next 10 years. And I would venture to say that divestment from fossil fuels will not be the last time we dare to change in order to be greener.
With this announcement, we join other influential universities in North America that are divesting from the oil industry. I thank the members of UdeM’s faculty, student body and philanthropic community who shared their concerns with us and made the case for responsible investing decisions.
“As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it,” wrote Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. By stepping up its ecological transition, the University of Montreal is contributing, in what it is and what it does, to building a sustainably better world.