Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Queen’s signs climate charter

Queen's has become a founding signatory on a charter that commits Canadian universities to responsible investing for the environment.

Photo of solar panels
Queen's is one of 15 Canadian universities signing the Charter.

In its efforts to become carbon neutral by 2040, Queen’s has taken many steps to lessen its impact on the environment. Now it is pledging to promote sustainability through its investments as well by becoming a founding signatory of Investing to Address Climate Change: A Charter for Canadian Universities.

Laying out a set of principles and practices to guide the investment decisions of Canadian institutions of higher education, the Charter is being signed by 15 Canadian universities including Queen’s, McGill, University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, Western University, and Dalhousie University.

“Universities have a unique and critical role to play in the fight against climate change. As researchers and educators, we produce and disseminate knowledge about both the current state of our environment and efforts to change a potentially disastrous trajectory. Looking to the future, we must consider decisions that help transition our society to a low-carbon economy. Embracing the principles of this Charter helps articulate how the university will address climate change and the responsibility we will take in ensuring a healthy environment for the future,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane.

Queen’s and the other signatories of the Climate Change Charter pledge to adhere to a set of principles and practices:

  • Adopt a responsible investing framework to guide investment decision-making, in line with recognized standards such as the UN-supported Principles of Responsible Investment (UN-PRI). Such a framework should:
    • Incorporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into investment management 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. 
  • Regularly measure the carbon intensity of our investment portfolios and set meaningful targets for their reduction over time.
  • Evaluate progress towards these objectives on a regular basis and share the results of such assessments publicly.
  • Ensure that the performance evaluation of our investment managers takes into account their success in achieving such objectives, alongside the other criteria for assessing their performance.

The Charter was reviewed and endorsed by the Queen’s Climate Change Action Task Force (CCATF) and the Investment Committee of the Board of Trustees. The Charter reflects a commitment to principles for moving to low-carbon investment practices, and it aligns with the recommendations of the CCATF that were approved by the Board in March 2020. It also aligns with Queen’s current Responsible Investing Policy, and critically is set in a risk-return context in line with the Board of Trustee’s fiduciary responsibilities.

Each university signing the Charter will continue to manage its own investments independently and set its own investment policies. It also lays out an agreement to set metrics for evaluating the carbon intensities within investment portfolios, so that all signatories will be able to measure their progress.

The Charter’s advisory committee was made up of financial experts, and it does not single out any specific industries.

Signing this charter is the latest of many efforts taken by Queen’s to strengthen its commitment to sustainability. In 2016, Queen’s adopted the Climate Action Plan, which lays out a strategy for the university to become carbon neutral by 2040. As part of this work, the university has made significant investments in infrastructure to reduce its carbon footprint. For example, the West Campus District Energy Conversion Project was a $10.5 million project that reduced greenhouse gas emissions on campus by 1,500 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. To collaborate with other leading North American universities and share best practices around sustainability, Queen’s joined the University Climate Change Coalition in 2019.

Queen’s has also established a Sustainability Working Group that is co-chaired by the vice-principal (finance and administration) and the deputy provost (operations and inclusion). The group provides strategic direction and recommendations for the evaluation, planning, development, communication, and implementation of initiatives aligned with the university’s sustainability goals.

To learn more about the university’s strategy to help build a sustainable future, see the Queen’s Climate Action Plan.

Read the Charter on the Queen's Responsible Investing website.