As a member of the U7+ Alliance of World Universities, the University of Ottawa reaffirms its strong commitment to a healthier global environment and support the implementation of climate goals set at the COP26 conference in Glasgow.
The University of Ottawa, along with 22 universities from 11 countries, signed a joint statement , which clearly outlines the two actions that each institution will take.
“We are seeking to strengthen cross sector collaborations with universities on the global scale,” said Jacques Frémont, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ottawa. “We must work together to align our environmental strategies to increase our combined international influence on issues related to climate change and sustainability.”
This global commitment aims to provide students with better access to courses related to climate, biodiversity, and sustainability. The universities that have signed this statement also commit to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, They also aim to develop and publish a specific target for this reduction.
“As a vital and international hub of teaching and research, the University of Ottawa acknowledges the scientific consensus that global warming is real,” added Sanni Yaya, Vice-President, International and Francophonie of the University of Ottawa. “We are committed to exercising leadership in our respective communities and to taking meaningful and visible actions that address the climate challenge. We take a stand for today’s and future generations.”
The U7+ Alliance of World Universities’ two actions to address climate change, and their outcomes, align with our University’s vision for a more sustainable campus. Furthermore, uOttawa has signed the 2020 Investing to Address Climate Change: A Charter for Canadian Universities alongside other universities members of the Group of Canadian Research Universities (U15). As such, we are committed to regularly measuring the carbon intensity of our investment portfolios and publishing the results of such assessments. We currently review our equity portfolios on an annual basis, the results of which are outlined in bi-annual reports to the Board of Governors and published on our website. The University also relies on the Office of Campus Sustainability to lead and implement specific actions to reduce emissions, help us achieve our sustainability goals, and contribute to the global fight against climate change.
Decade-long efforts to combat climate change
By joining other members of the U7+ Alliance of the World Universities, uOttawa continues the efforts to combat climate change that it initiated almost a decade ago. In 2012, uOttawa was the first Canadian university to sign the UN Principles for Responsible Investments (UN PRI). Then, in 2015, uOttawa was the first Canadian university to adhere to the Montréal Carbon Pledge. Finally, the University of Ottawa signed the 2020 Investing to Address Climate Change: A Charter for Canadian Universities, which was launched last year.
Since 2016, uOttawa’s investment strategy, approved by the Board of Governors, has gradually shifted the University’s investment portfolio away from the fossil fuel industry, thus helping to redirect over $94M (9.2%) of uOttawa’s portfolio away from climate change-inducing investments. Only 1.8% of uOttawa’s investment portfolio remain connected to fossil fuels.
The University’s Finance and Treasury Committee continues to look for ways to further divest the investment portfolio as part of a global approach to combating climate change. As stated in the last progress report, the integration of sustainability as one of the four strategic pillars of Transformation 2030 will be critical to uOttawa’s leadership in this area. It commits the entire University community to discussing and identifying opportunities to take action across all sectors and disciplines of our institution. Consultations with the university community about further divestment related actions will take place in early 2022.
About the U7+ Alliance
The U7+ Alliance is the first international coalition of university presidents aimed at structuring and advancing the role of universities as global actors across the multilateral agenda. Alliance members meet annually to establish a common agenda and identify key areas for coordinated action. Together, U7+ university presidents take stock of their universities’ unique civic and social responsibilities and pledge concrete action on behalf of their institutions to address the world’s most pressing challenges at local, regional, and global levels.