SFU moves to decrease carbon footprint of its investment portfolio

November 24, 2016

Simon Fraser University will decrease the carbon footprint of its investment portfolio by at least 30 percent by 2030 – in line with Canada’s national climate commitment. To ensure transparency, SFU will measure and publicly disclose the carbon footprint of its equity investments on an annual basis.

“The Board’s decision will enable SFU to take a more active role in encouraging companies to pursue lower carbon solutions while also reducing our investment risk,” said SFU Board Chair Bill Cunningham.

The Board recommendation follows an extensive process undertaken by SFU’s Responsible Investment Committee to consider how the university could demonstrate leadership in addressing climate change through responsible investment, while also fulfilling its fiduciary responsibility to reduce investment risk.

“Decreasing the carbon footprint of investment portfolios is more likely to reduce greenhouse gases than simply divesting from fossil fuel companies, particularly if this approach is adopted by others,” says SFU Board Deputy Chair Julia Kim.

SFU’s commitment to minimize the carbon footprint of its investments follows a series of other climate-related initiatives and achievements. These include: the creation of a Responsible Investment Committee and Policy; increasing the share of SFU’s endowment committed to socially responsible investments to $20 million; and the development of a University Energy Utilization Policy. As well, SFU is planning to shift to a biomass heating plant that will significantly reduce its Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.

“As Canada’s most community-engaged research university, SFU is actively contributing to solutions that address climate change,” says SFU President Andrew Petter. “This latest move adds to an already impressive list of sustainability programs and commitments.”

The university has also demonstrated climate leadership as a signatory of the Climate Change Statement of Action for Canada, the Paris Pledge for Action, the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment and the creation of the Energy Commitment Statement of Action.  

These initiatives have resulted in a two percent per year reduction of the use of energy since 2010 despite growth in space and numbers. SFU has also exceeded the Province’s GHG reduction goal (18 per cent reduction by 2016) ahead of schedule.

Petter says he wishes to acknowledge the contribution of SFU350, whose advocacy was instrumental in encouraging the university to develop its new policy. SFU350 is a student organization committed to engaging the SFU community in meaningful action against climate change in pursuit of a more sustainable world.

"SFU 350 is proud that the university is making a first step to realign its investment practices with its research record and values of sustainability and integrity," says SFU 350 President Tessa Ramburn. "As a student group supporting full fossil fuel divestment, we recognize the importance of this policy change and look forward to continuing to collaborate with the university on initiatives that demonstrate clear environmental leadership."