UTAM making progress toward goals on climate change

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Economic graph chart and eco or ecological development concept as a group of trees coming together in the shape of an arrow pointing upwards as a success metaphor for profits and growth. © lightwise /123RF Stock PhotosThe University of Toronto Asset Management Corp. is making significant progress toward its goals on climate change, according to its fourth annual responsible investing report.

In terms of its goal to reduce the carbon footprint of its pension and endowment portfolios by at least 40 per cent compared to 2017 levels by the end of 2030, the report noted, as of Dec. 31, 2019, the carbon footprint was 109.3 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per million dollars invested, a reduction of 19.7 per cent from 2018 and 21.5 per cent from 2017. In addition, the absolute emissions in the portfolios have decreased by 12.9 per cent since 2017.

The report, which included a detailed account of how the UTAM weighs the potential impacts of environmental, social and governance factors in its investment activities, also highlighted the organization’s endorsement of the recommendations of the task force on climate-related financial disclosures in early 2020.

“U of T was the first Canadian university to make this endorsement with respect to its pension and endowment funds,” said a press release, noting the report provides disclosures in line with these recommendations for the first time.

The UTAM also received the results from the second and third assessments of its responsible investing activities by the Principles for Responsible Investment, said the report. In 2019, it received five A+ marks and one A; in 2020, it received six A+ marks.

In addition, it continued to collaborate with other institutional investors, taking on advisory and leadership roles in organizations relevant to responsible investing. In 2019, Daren Smith, the UTAM’s president and chief investment officer, was appointed to the board of the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance and, this year, he became vice-chair of the organization’s environmental and social committee.

“We are proud of the comprehensive approach we’ve developed for responsible investing, which aligns with and strengthens our broader scope of responsibility: to the members of the University of Toronto pension plan, who expect to enjoy a secure, well-earned retirement; to the many generous donors who’ve contributed to the university’s endowment; and to the vibrant community of students, faculty and staff who make U of T one of the world’s leading centres of teaching, learning and research,” said Smith, in the release.

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