March 23, 2016, special meeting of McGill’s Board of Governors

March 23, 2016

Dear members of the McGill community:

In February 2015, the group Divest McGill submitted a comprehensive report to the Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility (CAMSR). The report identified fossil fuels as a leading source of climate change, and asked that McGill University divest itself of investments in fossil fuel companies. The Chair of McGill’s Board of Governors committed to issuing a decision by the end of March 2016.

CAMSR convened nine times to discuss the submission; four of these meetings were with members of Divest McGill. In considering the petition and its response to it, CAMSR consulted with several members of the academic community who specialize in environmental studies and sustainability sciences, regularly corresponded with Divest McGill, and examined the reports of McGill’s national and international peer institutions. CAMSR delivered its final report on Divest McGill’s submission to the Board of Governors at a special meeting today, March 23.

The committee commends the members of Divest McGill for the respectful and constructive way they engaged in this dialogue. Their presentations were thoughtful and well-prepared, and they have raised the University community’s awareness of the climate change issue. The University’s Board of Governors fully acknowledges that climate change is a serious issue, and that fossil fuel consumption contributes to climate change.

CAMSR, however, does not recommend divestment at present. It recommends instead that the University undertake a series of important actions to promote sustainability and to advance understanding of climate change.

In endorsing CAMSR’s recommendations, the Board has asked its Investment Committee to consider and report on actions to address principles of socially responsible investment.

The Board has also asked the University administration to provide it with a preliminary overview of all current sustainability-related activities. This overview will provide the basis for integrating, and possibly expanding, those initiatives to create a comprehensive plan to encourage sustainability initiatives, including research and education across all fields of study, and climate-related activities.

Addressing climate change in a manner consistent with the University’s mission is a McGill priority. This is an issue to which all members of the administration are committed, and one that the Board of Governors will now include in its stewardship role.

Sincerely,

Suzanne Fortier
Principal and Vice-Chancellor, McGill University

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