Weekly Update, February 12

Dear members of the UBC community.

As you know, a little over a year ago, on December 5, 2019, UBC declared a climate emergency.

As part of the declaration, I established a Climate Emergency Task Force with a mandate to consolidate input from both in-person and online consultations into a public report.

Despite the exceptional circumstances caused by the pandemic, the Task Force consulted widely with the UBC community and has produced a comprehensive, forward-looking report and recommendations.

Last week, I am pleased to say, the Task Force’s report and recommendations were endorsed in principle by the sustainability committee of the UBC Board of Governors. The recommendations will now go to the full Board for discussion on February 16.

I would like to thank co-chairs Walter Merida and Michelle Marcus and all the members of the Task Force and working groups for their hard work and dedication over the past several months. I’d also like to thank everyone who participated, whether by attending in-person or virtual town halls, answering surveys or sending in emails.

I respect the recommendations that have been made and the careful work that has gone into them. All the recommendations will be taken into account as we plan the path forward.

Climate change continues to pose extensive and disastrous threats to peoples’ lives and livelihoods both locally and globally, contributing to famine, migration, and disease worldwide, including impact on individual physical and mental well-being.

Indigenous and marginalized communities bear the harmful impacts of fossil fuel extraction and climate destruction while being least responsible for the global acceleration of the climate crisis.

The community spoke strongly on these issues and the Task Force listened. Their report deserves the thoughtful consideration and response of all of us.

We are already acting on many of the recommendations in the report.

UBC has been a world leader in reducing emissions on our campuses for over 10 years. UBC is working on an updated Climate Action Plan which will define new emissions reduction actions and targets, along with implementation strategies for the next 10 years for both campuses.

This includes the expansion of the Bioenergy Facility later this year that will reduce UBC Vancouver’s Scope 1+2 emissions to approximately 62% over 2007 levels.

We have also undertaken actions that recognize the need to engage underrepresented and marginalized communities, including deeper engagement with iBPOC communities. We will continue to engage with these communities as we respond to the climate emergency.

We are also taking action in many other ways. You can find more details on the UBC climate emergency website at climateemergency.ubc.ca. The website will be regularly updated with more information.

As the Task Force report notes, “we are not expecting to find all the answers immediately. This is the beginning of a conversation.”

Every week I give a shoutout to one of UBC’s many unsung heroes. This week, I’m privileged to honour Dias Yessenbayev, a fourth year Bachelor of Management student at UBC Okanagan.

Dias is working as a co-op student providing learning technology support to other students. He is doing a fantastic job of helping them one-on-one with their learning technology challenges and is also developing educational materials, trouble-shooting guides and presentations.

Wishing you all the best today and every day.

Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor