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Université Laval and UL Foundation to reduce investment portfolio carbon footprint by 50%

Québec City, December 12, 2019 – Université Laval and its Foundation have adopted a new responsible investment strategy that includes ambitious targets for reducing the carbon footprint of UL's investment portfolio. Using a December 31, 2018 evaluation as its benchmark, the strategy aims for a 50% reduction in UL's equity portfolio footprint by 2030. To help fast track the process, the strategy also sets a mid-point reduction target of 30% by 2025. With this strategy, the University and Foundation have clearly aligned their investment philosophy with UL's values and climate objectives.

In drawing up the new responsible investment plan, UL examined various disinvestment strategies. This process resulted in the choice of a carbon footprint–based approach. As André Darveau, vice-rector of administration, explained, «The strength of our approach lies in quantifying the greenhouse gas emissions for all the securities we hold, then working to gradually reduce them. It addresses the issue in a methodical, logical, and scientific way.»

As at the benchmark date of December 31, 2018, the carbon footprint of the University and Foundation's investment portfolio was already 6% lower than that of a comparable composite index, i.e., 156 tCO2e/$M instead of 166 tCO2e/$M for the index.

The new strategy has four components:

  • Reducing the carbon footprint
  • Practising active shareholder engagement (by exercising voting rights, for example)
  • Participating in responsible investor initiatives
  • Integrating environmental, social, and governance considerations into investment decisions

«We believe that responsible investors should bring the full force of their influence to bear for the well-being of society and the environment. Under this new strategy, we intend to use all the levers available to us. To this end, the responsible investment strategy announced today is in keeping with the responsible investment approaches adopted by other leading institutions, including Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec,» added Darveau.

The University and the Foundation have already taken action. France Croteau, interim president and CEO of the Foundation, is pleased that measures are already in place. «I'm very proud to say that all investment managers selected to help oversee the master trust are now members of UNPRI (United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment). Over the past several years, the trust has urged its managers to join the UN initiative and included membership as a criteria when selecting new managers. It's through efforts like these that we will be able to achieve our goals while still maintaining our performance targets and controlling financial risks,» she added. The University also announced that it will soon become a signatory to the UNPRI, an initiative of the Secretary General of the United Nations.

Université Laval's ambitious plan to halve the carbon footprint of its portfolio by 2030 is consistent with the other actions it has implemented as a sustainable development leader. «This target is over and above our previous commitment,» Université Laval Rector Sophie D'Amours proudly explained. «The approach adopted by the University and the Foundation will make a much bigger dent in our carbon footprint than we initially thought. It's a major challenge, but I know we're ready to take it on.»

Université Laval has already achieved enviable results in this regard; it ranks fourth among universities worldwide and second in Canada for its actions to fight climate change according to the ranking published by Times Higher Education. «Sustained efforts are the way we'll achieve this new objective. It's a major endeavour that we're undertaking. Targeting a 50% reduction by 2030 and a 30% reduction as early as 2025 is an ambitious goal, but we will do what we need to do to get there. Universities are institutions of knowledge and innovation. We have a duty to constantly reinvent ourselves by rethinking our practices,» said the rector.

Simon La Terreur
Media Relations Advisor
Communications Department
Université Laval
T 418 656-2131 ext 404159
C 418 803-8814