In November 2014, following a petition from Toronto 350 calling on U of T to “fully divest from fossil fuel companies within the next 5 years and to immediately stop investing new money in the industry,” President Meric Gertler established an advisory committee on divestment from fossil fuels. This committee deliberated for a year, consulting with a range of stakeholders, and undertaking research on divestment initiatives and petitions at other universities and institutions. In December 2016, the ad hoc committee released its report detailing its recommendations to President Gertler. In addition to arguing that the UofT should ramp up its academic and operational climate change related activities, the report detailed the ‘Toronto Principle’ that should guide divestment from fossil energy companies. The committee suggested that principled divestment would both satisfy the University’s fiduciary responsibilities and respond the social injury concerns that arise from having investments in companies that contribute directly to climate change. The suggested conditions included divesting from fossil fuel companies whose activities make it impossible to credibly purse the 2 degree target enshrined in the Paris Agreement and those companies who have engaged in obfuscating climate science.
With the publication of this report and submission of recommendations to President Gertler, many were optimisitic that the University of Toronto was on the verge of being the first Canadian University to divest its holdings in the fossil fuel industry. But in March of 2016, President Gertler, who has called climate change “one of the most pressing issues of our times,” rejected the recommendation, stating that divestment would have limited impact as “such firms only account for one-quarter of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.“
This gives some of the background vis a vi the official UofT process. It would be good to add some background from the movement side.