I am pleased to share that UBC has unveiled two ambitious climate action plans for the Vancouver and Okanagan campus.
With the release of these plans, UBC has pledged to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 for both campuses and continue to play a leadership role in addressing the climate emergency.
For Vancouver, that means an 85% reduction in campus operations emissions by 2030 and achieving Net Zero emissions by 2035. This is 15 years ahead of our original target of net zero by 2050. This includes emissions from buildings, energy and fleet. And a 45% reduction in extended emissions. This addresses emissions that all of us have control over including commuting, waste, food and air travel.
For UBC Okanagan, it will be a 65% reduction in campus operations emissions by 2030 and 45% reduction in extended emissions.
Together, these reductions will help UBC align with the Paris Agreement targets, with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. That’s the threshold many scientists have said is crucial to avoid the most disastrous effects of global warming.
UBC has a unique role to be an agent of change in forging a path for other municipalities across BC to accelerate toward net zero emissions.
To meet the targets of our climate actions plans, the university will be doing its part to reduce operations emissions and to support the community in taking urgent action on climate change.
Some highlights of the plan include:
- using low-carbon energy sources to heat campus buildings,
- eliminating fossil fuel systems and equipment in buildings,
- transitioning to zero emission vehicles and equipment,
- implementing sustainable transportation initiatives through the UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan Transportation Plans,
- continuing to advocate for SkyTrain extension to UBC Vancouver
- expanding climate-friendly food menu offerings;
- and exploring opportunities to reduce air travel emissions between UBC campuses and replacing discretionary business trips with virtual meetings whenever possible.
The university recognizes that the ability to take part in sustainable actions may be constrained by lack of privilege and inequality. This is why engaging principles of climate justice are particularly relevant when developing climate actions related to food systems, commuting and business air travel. We must identify and remove barriers to choosing alternatives to ensure equity across our campus community.
As a community of learners, researchers and change makers, we have the opportunity and a responsibility to take action and demonstrate leadership to address one of the most pressing issues of our time.
Achieving the ambition of CAP 2030 will require systemic change that will reach every corner of the institution. And will require the entire UBC community to be engaged and to participate.
We have enormous intellectual and institutional capacities to advance change for the positive future—that is why we have embedded the term ‘net positive’ into our strategic and sustainability plans.
Through our network of community and global partnerships including University Climate Change Coalition, International Sustainable Campus Network, University Alliance on Sustainability and U7+ (just to name a few) we are helping to support knowledge exchange where research informs policy, and where policy catalyzes action.
These partnerships enable UBC’s climate action to inform change across the campus, community and global scales.
It was the UBC community especially students that mobilized to increase awareness and to advocate for action with the creation of the student-led Climate Hub and the many student-led sustainability initiatives on both campuses. We believe this commitment and participation is critical to helping advance our bold vision and ambitious goals.
As we move to implementing the climate action plans you’ll hear about new programs, tools and resources that we’re creating to better support you in making changes.
Visit the climate action plan website to learn more and stay tuned for ongoing communications and outreach, on how you can take action now.
Thank you for supporting this crucial initiative – for both UBC and the world.
Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor