Board of Trustees clarifies its climate change endorsement

Chair of Climate Change Action Task Force says recommendations were “misinterpreted” by Queen’s community

The Board endorsed the Climate Change Action Task Force’s recommendations at a meeting on March 6.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

Before the Board of Trustees voted on the agenda at its May 8 meeting, Donald Raymond, chair of the Board, addressed the community’s “misinterpretation” of its earlier climate change recommendations.

“It’s come to my attention there’s been some confusion in the Queen’s community about the recommendations,” Raymond told the Board. “[I]t’s important for me as the Chair of the [Climate Change Action] Task Force to clarify: by investing in the energy sector and environmental sustainability, we don’t believe those two things are mutually exclusive.”

The Task Force was formed in December 2019 after the Board heard a presentation by Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change (QBACC) in which the student-run environmental activism group urged the University to divest from oil and gas investments. 

The Board unanimously endorsed the Task Force’s recommendations at a meeting on March 6, giving its Investment Committee the mandate to implement the recommendations within its portfolio.

He explained that the Board doesn’t believe support for environmental sustainability necessarily leads to divestment.

“Importantly, divestment removes the ability to engage with companies on issues of long-term sustainability,” Raymond said, adding that these points were heavily discussed and debated within the Task Force.

The recommendations covered a range of commitments, including a pledge to set reasonable objectives for reducing the portfolios' carbon intensity, while recognizing the Board’s fiduciary duties.

“I think the recommendations were quite clear, but they've perhaps been misinterpreted by different elements of our Queen's community,” Raymond said. 

While the May 8 meeting was his last as chair of the Board, Raymond will continue to oversee its climate initiatives as chair of the Task Force.

When The Journal inquired about which members of the Queen’s community Raymond was referring to, he wrote that the Board had been asked to clarify the meaning and intent of the recommendations by “a number of alumni and students” following the endorsement. 

“The Board believes Queen’s and Canada needs to address climate change and environmental sustainability collectively and comprehensively,” Raymond wrote in his statement to The Journal. “[T]hese issues are not the responsibility of one sector alone, or exclusively of producers of energy.”

He added that sustainability, which leads to the mitigation of climate change, involves innovation in both the use and production of energy.

“We believe our endorsement of the Task Force recommendations reflects this broad view of the issue,” Raymond wrote.

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