Laurier signs on to climate change charter to guide future investments


Wilfrid Laurier has signed onto a charter that places climate change as a central issue when determining financial investments the university may make.

The charter, called Investing to Address Climate Change: A Charter for Canadian Universities, was created by the University of Toronto in June of last year and as of now has 16 other universities as signatories.

“[The charter’s] primary goal was to look at climate change and what we can do, in particular what we can do with investment portfolios,” explained Lloyd Noronha, vice president of finance and administration at Laurier.

“Universities came together to put out a set of principles that you need to follow in order to become a signatory of the charter.” 

The principles meant to guide investment under this charter include acknowledging climate change as a global challenge and directing resources towards alternative, greener energy sources.

The charter also requires that universities periodically measure the environmental impact of the investments they’re making and to share that data with the public.

Universities are also expected to set specific targets for reducing their carbon emissions.

 “Although the charter is mostly about investments—financial investments—it also talks about infrastructure and your carbon footprint,” Noronha said.

“It recognizes that there’s a financial component, but there’s also more that we can do from an infrastructure standpoint, and I think we [at Laurier] exemplify that.”

Noronha additionally added that there likely wouldn’t be any decrease to Laurier’s endowment funds due to these changes.

Laurier has been rated highly in terms of its environmental policies. 

This includes a ‘Gold’ rating from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System, a framework used by colleges and universities to measure sustainability.

The university’s Board of Governors formed the Responsible Investment Working Group back in September of 2016, which conducted research on the environmental impacts of Laurier’s investments at the time.

That group made similar recommendations to the new charter, encouraging moving away from fossil fuels and promoting sustainability on campus.

Laurier has also begun many other programs to address its environmental footprint. 

These include the Laurier Energy Efficiency Program launched in 2017 and the Sustainability Action Plan launched in 2018, among others.

In terms of programs accessible to students, there is the Sustainability Office, which was itself created by students in 2010.

There is also the Sustainable Hawk Fund, which provides funding to entrepreneurial projects.

Students may apply for the Sustainable Hawk Fund as of November 15 of this year, and have until January 14, 2022, to do so.

“I’m quite happy […] to have joined an organization that really does value [environmental policy],” Noronha said.

“I think that Laurier’s got a bright future on the sustainability front.”Links to the Sustainable Hawk Fund and the Sustainability Office’s Twitter page have been included.

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