Queen’s first Responsible Investing Annual Report shows positive results on decarbonizing investments

Global Impact

Queen’s first Responsible Investing Annual Report shows positive results on decarbonizing investments

April 6, 2023


Responsible Investing Annual Report

Queen’s University has published its first Responsible Investing Annual Report, which at the end of last year posted a five per cent decrease in the carbon footprint of its Pooled Endowment Fund (PEF) investments between December 2021 and December 2022, resulting in a carbon footprint that is 12 per cent lower than the carbon emissions of the global benchmark index.

In June 2020, Queen's University became a founding signatory of Investing to Address Climate Change: A Charter for Canadian Universities, which commits Canadian universities to responsible investing to foster the transition to a low carbon economy. In March 2022 the Board of Trustees approved a number of Investment Committee recommendations which stemmed from the work of the Climate Change Action Task Force.

Queen’s has made a commitment to de-carbonize the university’s investments through a holistic, collaborative, and comprehensive strategy across its entire $1.9 billion investment portfolio, with an approach that also remains consistent with its fiduciary responsibility.

The largest of the university’s investment funds are the Pooled Endowment Fund ($1.4 billion) and the Pooled Investment Fund ($500 million). The university is taking a holistic approach to de-carbonization across these public equity portfolios without singling out specific industries. It is taking an ambitious approach to sustain carbon emissions at least 25 per cent lower than a widely accepted global benchmark (currently the MSCI All Country World Index), by the end of calendar 2030. The university sees using a relative target as much more aggressive than setting an absolute reduction target relative to a base year, due to the inevitable transition toward carbon-neutrality over time. The more the carbon footprint of the benchmark falls over time, the more aggressive the university target becomes.

A key to achieving this goal is the establishment of a Queen’s Climate Action Allocation (QCAA), made up of investments with significantly lower carbon emissions than the equities benchmark. The university intends to allocate at least 15 per cent of the PEF to the QCAA by the end of calendar 2030. The QCAA was kickstarted in December 2020 with a US$30 million investment in Pattern Energy, a private wind and solar company with operations in North America and Japan.

Work on responsible investing continues. Queen’s is currently reviewing its Responsible Investing Policy and will be launching its inaugural UNPRI report in 2024.

The university has posted its Responsible Investing Annual Report as well as a video from an April 5, 2023 Town Hall on its Responsible Investing website.

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