University of Montreal pulls out of fossil fuel sector

After several months of working on the issue of fossil fuel divestments, the University of Montreal management presented its plan to the various authorities. By 31 December 2025 at the latest, UdeM will have withdrawn from its capital fund all listed shares of companies active in the fossil fuel sector, both directly and indirectly. This commitment decisively steers the established order towards sustainable development.

The Endowment Fund is mainly used to finance research projects and grants, in other words this fund is the fruit of the university’s philanthropic activities. As of December 31, 2021, the Fund’s total value was estimated at $420 million and fossil fuel investments accounted for four percent of its value.

“Today’s announcement adds to the decisions made in recent years in the field of responsible investment and reinforces my belief that our university is taking the right steps. They reaffirm our desire to reduce our environmental footprint, but above all they send a strong signal that the University of Montreal is at a turning point in terms of sustainable development,” said Rector Daniel Jutras.

The most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change strongly underlines the importance to be attached to the climate emergency. If it is ecological, the withdrawal of fossil fuels is as symbolic as it is political. “You should never lose sight of the full influence we have in society as a community of thinkers, educators, scientists and students in a future full of promise. By withdrawing from hydrocarbons, the university is leading by example and siding with all scientific studies begging humanity to accelerate its energy transition,” continued Mr. jutras.

Last year, UdeM unveiled an ambitious strategic plan with change as the main theme. “The University of Montreal wants its development to be sustainable for the environment and society and for its choices to be in line with this ideal,” reads the portion of this plan outlining the university’s social responsibility. Sustainable development will be the spearhead of this vision for the next 10 years. Rector Jutras said that the withdrawal of fossil fuels from the market will not be the last time that UdeM dares to take the step towards green turns.

With this announcement, UdeM joins other influential universities in North America engaged in a divestment process in the oil sector.

Responsible investing

Various decisions have been taken in recent years in the field of responsible investment. UdeM has long adhered to the United Nations principles of responsible investment, which include considering environmental, social and governance factors. And in 2021, UdeM has pledged to reduce the weighted average carbon intensity of listed stocks held directly or indirectly in its equity fund by 20% by 2025 and 35% by 2030.

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