McMaster co-signs charter with Canadian universities to address climate change

McMaster has joined several other leading Canadian universities by pledging to work together on climate change initiatives across invested assets.

The unified effort, which involves 15 signatories including McGill, te University of British Columbia and the University of Toronto, is outlined in Investing to Address Climate Change: A Charter for Canadian Universities

“Climate change is an extraordinarily complex issue facing all of society,” says McMaster president David Farrar. “As a global university, we must recognize the important role we play through all of our sustainability efforts, which include responsible investments.”

The Charter’s signatories pledge to abide by the following principles and practices, and encourage other universities to do the same:

1) Adopt a responsible investing framework to guide investment decision-making, in line with recognized standards such as the UN Principles of Responsible Investing (UN-PRI).  Such a framework should:

  • Incorporate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors into investment management practices and encourage active engagement with companies to foster disclosure of ESG (including climate) related risks, and adoption of operational practices
  • Encourage active engagement with companies to foster disclosure of ESG (including climate) related risks, and adoption of operational practices that reduce carbon emissions and foster ESG-positive behaviour more broadly

2) Regularly measure the carbon intensity of investment portfolios, and set meaningful targets for their reduction over time

3) Evaluate progress towards these objectives on a regular basis, and share the results of such assessments publicly

4) Ensure the performance evaluation of university investment managers takes into account their success in achieving such objectives, alongside the normal criteria for assessing their performance

The Charter builds on the University’s ongoing efforts to address climate issues associated with invested assets. McMaster has integrated ESG factors into all of its policies and procedures and has integrated the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment into its Investment Pool policy.

Recently, McMaster became the first Canadian university to be an early voluntary adopter of the Task Force Recommendations for Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TFCD) across all invested asset portfolios. The disclosures will be included in the annual financial reports. McMaster also measures the carbon in the Investment Pool, which is publicly disclosed in its annual financial report.

“Early adoption of the federal government’s endorsed TFCD will enhance McMasters accountability and transparency by applying a globally accepted approach to measuring and reporting greenhouse gases,” says Deidre (Dee) Henne, AVP (Administration) & Chief Financial Officer.

Earlier this year, McMaster ranked 17th in the world in the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings, which is based on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Goals are a call to action to protect the planet, prevent poverty, ensure healthy lives, peace and prosperity by the year 2030.

In December, the university ranked third in Canada in the Universitas Indonesia’s GreenMetric World University Rankings, which measure participants’ commitment in developing environmentally friendly infrastructure.

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