UVic board to consider partial fossil fuel divestment proposal
A University of Victoria sign is seen in this file photo. (CTV)
VICTORIA -- The University of Victoria board of governors is about to consider a proposal that would see a reduction of the institution's carbon footprint in its short-term investments.
The proposed policy would mean that UVic's $225 million short-term investments would lower investment in carbon-emitting industries across the entire portfolio by at least 45 per cent by 2030.
"Our new policy will look at things like greenhouse gas emissions from companies and targeting our reductions," said UVic vice-president of finance and operations Gayle Gorrill. "We will also be making investments in companies that make investments in making positive changes like clean technology and renewable energy."
The recommendation of a revised investment policy comes after months of research, meetings with student groups, and consultation with a range of stakeholders and external experts. The proposed policy will bring the university in line with targets set by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Paris Climate Agreement that aim to limit global temperature rise 1.5 C.
"We share our student and our faculty concern about the climate crisis and we see our investment policy as one way that's going to contribute to addressing that climate crisis," said Gorrill. "Our approach is a comprehensive approach, looking at high-carbon-emitting companies, so we see it as an effective way to help respond to climate change."
The university's plan is to substantially lower emissions throughout the portfolio. The proposed change in investment strategy is thought by the university to be a more holistic way to accomplish the change needed across all sectors of the economy. The policy will also support the development of low-carbon technologies needed to significantly reduce the use of fossil fuels.
Since 2013, the student led advocacy group Divest UVic has been demanding the university divest its investments in fossil fuel extraction, transportation, and refinement companies. Divest UVic also wants the institution to re-invest in sustainable industries.
"Our students, faculty and administration at UVic agree that addressing climate change is really, really important so we agree on that issue climate crisis," said Gorrill. "Where we don't agree is on the specific approach, so I think in terms of our comprehensive approach, it's going to be very positive. Will everyone agree? Probably not."
Gorrill said the administration appreciates the research and perspective of Divest UVic, which she said has played an important role in engaging the university in dialogue about how to address climate change. She also praised the efforts of faculty and members of administration who are committed to addressing the perils of a warming climate by working together to seek solutions.
The draft policy is available for viewing as part of the public docket of the Board of Governor’s Jan. 28 meeting on the University Secretary’s website.