Presidential Advisory Committee on Divestment from Fossil Fuels - Consultation Notice and Call for Submissions

PDAD&C #97, 2014-15

To:

Governing Council, Academic Board, Business Board, University Affairs Board
Principals, Deans, Academic Directors, and Chairs
Professionals, Managers and Confidential Staff
President of UTFA, Presidents of Employee Unions
Presidents of APUS, GSU, SCSU, UTSU and UTMSU
President of UTAA

From:      Professor Bryan Karney
Chair, Presidential Advisory Committee on Divestment from Fossil Fuels
Date: June 4, 2015
Re: Presidential Advisory Committee on Divestment from Fossil Fuels - Consultation Notice and Call for Submissions

Background

On March 6, 2014, Toronto350.org, a student-led group, submitted a petition to President Gertler under the terms of the University's Policy on Social and Political Issues With Respect to University Divestment. The petition called on the University of Toronto to “fully divest from fossil fuel companies within the next five years and to immediately stop investing new money in the industry”. Under the terms of the Policy, the President struck an ad hoc Advisory Committee on Divestment from Fossil Fuels in November, 2014. The Committee’s mandate is to review the petition and accompanying brief and consider the University’s response to the call for divestment. The Committee may also reflect more generally on the University’s most appropriate and effective responses to the challenges posed by climate change. The Committee will bring recommendations to the President no later than December, 2015.

Consultation Notice

The Presidential Advisory Committee on Divestment from Fossil Fuels invites the views of the University community in response to the petition prepared by Toronto350.org. The Committee also welcomes ideas and proposals as to what other actions – notwithstanding the University’s ultimate decision on the petition – the University might consider in order to respond to challenges of climate change.

The deadline for submissions is Wednesday, September 30, 2015.

Submissions to the Committee should take the following form:

  • Submissions must be made in writing and must contain the authors’ names and email addresses and their affiliation with the University of Toronto.
  • Submissions should address, as appropriate, the principles and duties articulated in the University's Policy on Social and Political Issues With Respect to University Divestment.
  • Submissions should also address, as appropriate, the arguments advanced in the brief accompanying the student petition, The Fossil Fuel Industry and the Case for Divestment.
  • Submissions should state a view on the actions called for in the petition and present reasons for this view – whether the authors support or oppose the petition in whole or in part.
  • Ideas and proposals as to what actions the University might consider in response to the challenges of climate change would be particularly welcome.

Submissions may be sent to:

Professor Bryan Karney
Chair, Presidential Advisory Committee on Divestment from Fossil Fuels
Office of the President
Simcoe Hall, Room 206
University of Toronto
Toronto, ON M5S 1A1

Submissions may also be sent by e-mail to president@utoronto.ca.

Additional Context

The Executive Committee of the Governing Council approved the Advisory Committee's membership on October 22, 2014. The members are:

  • Bryan Karney, Chair (Associate Dean, Cross-Disciplinary Programs, Professor and Chair, Division of Environmental Engineering & Energy Systems)
  • Peter Burns (Professor and Chair, Department of Medical Biophysics)
  • Graham Coulter (Second-year National Scholar at Innis College)
  • Andrew Green (Associate Professor, Faculty of Law)
  • Matt Hoffmann (Professor, Political Science, UTSC)
  • Arthur Hosios (Professor and Chair, Economics)
  • Mohan Matthen (Professor and Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Perception, Department of Philosophy, UTM)
  • Carl Mitchell (Alumnus, Past President UTAA, Chief Operating Officer, MED e-care Health Care Solutions Inc.)
  • Rita O’Brien (Acting Warden and Chief Administrative Officer, Hart House)
  • Barbara Sherwood Lollar (University Professor, Canada Research Chair in Isotope Geochemistry of the Earth and the Environment, Earth Sciences)

The petition specifically calls on the University of Toronto to:

  • Make an immediate statement of principle, expressing its intention to divest its direct holdings of stock in fossil fuel companies,
  • Immediately stop making new investments in the industry,
  • Instruct its investment managers to wind down the University’s existing direct stock holdings in the 200 fossil fuel companies with the largest fossil fuel reserves within five years, and
  • Divest from Chevron within one year.

Submissions to the Committee will be treated as confidential. We recognize that many faculty, staff and students will be away over the summer and, in order to afford them the opportunity to provide input to this process, we will send another communication in early September.

Thank you very much for your contribution to this important process.

Questions may be directed to the co-secretaries to the Committee: Susanne Miskimmin (susanne.miskimmin@utoronto.ca) or Tony Gray (tony.gray@utoronto.ca).

Relevant documents are available here:

The Governing Council Policy on Social and Political Issues With Respect to University Divestment, March 4, 2008: http://www.governingcouncil.utoronto.ca/Assets/Governing+Council+Digital+Assets/Policies/Policy/ppmar042008.pdf
 
The Pension Committee of Governing Council’s Statement of Investment Policies and Procedures, June 1, 2015: http://www.governingcouncil.utoronto.ca/Assets/Governing+Council+Digital+Assets/Policies/PDF/penfundmaster.pdf

The Toronto350.0rg petition and brief, The Fossil Fuel Industry and the Case for Divestment: http://www.toronto350.org/divest