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Divestment committee invites comments

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An advisory committee is seeking input from the Queen’s community on whether the university should divest its Pooled Endowment Fund and Pooled Investment Fund from public companies that engage in fossil fuel extraction and distribution.

Principal Daniel Woolf struck the Advisory Committee on Divestment of Fossil Fuels, in accordance with the requirements of the university’s Statement on Responsible Investing (SRI), after an expression of concern was received from the student group Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change. Divestment is not currently being considered for the Queen’s Pension Plan.

“Consultation is an important part of the advisory committee’s mandate,” says David Allgood, a Queen’s alumnus and the committee’s chair. “We look forward to receiving views and evidence from students, staff, faculty, retirees, alumni, and any individual or group that wishes to contribute during the consultation process.”  

“Consultation is an important part of the advisory committee’s mandate. We look forward to receiving views and evidence from students, staff, faculty, retirees, alumni, and any individual or group that wishes to contribute during the consultation process.”

- David Allgood, Chair

According to its mandate, the committee must assess whether the activities of public fossil fuel companies constitute “social injury”, as defined in the SRI, and what action, if any, to recommend to the university.

“The committee is particularly interested in hearing views on the question of social injury and on what actions it might recommend to the university,” says Mr. Allgood. “Depending on its findings, the committee could recommend that no further action be taken, that the university divests, or that Queen’s remain invested and undertake shareholder engagement activities.”

There are three ways to participate in the consultation process: General views may be submitted to the advisory committee via its webpage or by email; formal written submissions may be sent in response to the committee’s call for submissions; or a request can be made to present directly to the committee. All submissions should be sent to the committee no later than September 17.

“While the committee was originally expected to make its recommendations by the end of June, we recognize that this is a busy time of year for everyone at Queen’s,” says Mr. Allgood. “The Principal has agreed to extend the timeline until the end of September so that all stakeholders, including students, have a full opportunity to participate in the consultation process.”

A series of meetings is currently being organized to allow individuals and groups to present to the committee, whether in person on the Queen’s campus or by teleconference. Although details have not yet been finalized, anyone interested in this option may email the committee for further details.

The advisory committee is expected to conclude its work at the end of September, and will make its recommendation to the principal on what action, if any, should be taken. The principal will then bring that recommendation to the investment committee of the Board of Trustees for a final decision.