British Columbia

SFU to slash fossil-fuel investments by nearly half by 2025

Simon Fraser University's board of governors has voted in favour of nearly halving its fossil fuel investments by 2025. The divestment is in line with recommendations made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Board of trustees vote in favour of reducing investments in carbon-emitting companies by 45%

Simon Fraser University has an endowment fund worth about $400 million. Dollars go toward scholarships and financing the long-term vision of donors, according to an endowment fund report. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Simon Fraser University's board of governors has voted in favour of nearly halving its fossil fuel investments by 2025.

The divestment is in line with recommendations made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

After the vote Thursday, the school will move toward decreasing carbon investments within its endowment fund by 45 per cent from 2015 levels over the next six years.

The university endowment fund is financed by donors and is valued at about $400 million. The money is used for scholarships and programs.

The university previously committed to a 40 per cent reduction by 2030. Student advocacy groups have long been calling for carbon divestments up to 70 per cent.

"We're facing a climate crisis right now, and the UN scientists have made it clear that we need to do a lot more." said Raaj Chatterjee, member of the climate advocacy student group SFU 350. "We need to make sure that funds are going to companies that are doing better."

Chatterjee says it can be difficult to ascertain just how much money the school has invested in carbon emissions given the diversity of its portfolio.

Simon Fraser University students are reflected in a pond as they line up to receive their degrees during the fall convocation ceremony at the university in Burnaby, B.C., on Friday Oct. 11, 2013. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The school has previously said it has no direct investments in fossil fuel companies. But Chatterjee says the bulk of investments are in pool funds, and estimates about 10 to 15 per cent of those dollars are invested in carbon-heavy companies.

CBC News has reached out to the university for comment.

Other schools divest

Last week, the University of British Columbia voted to divest $380 million from fossil fuels. The school has an investment portfolio worth $2 billion.

Concordia University and the University of California recently pledged to divest all of their funds of fossil fuels.

Chatterjee said he hopes SFU eventually ramps up its divestment efforts even further.

"It sets a higher precedent for these large institutions to take more action," he said.

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