Climate Action Plan

The development of UBC’s latest Climate Action Plan 2030 (CAP 2030) is underway and is a key component to accelerating UBC toward net zero carbon emissions.

The CAP 2030 will also address the UBC Climate Emergency declaration commitments and new pathways for contributing towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
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Aerial view of UBC campus

Climate Action Plan 2030

Overview

In December 2019, the UBC Board of Governors unanimously endorsed a Declaration on the Climate Emergency. The Declaration includes a commitment to accelerate emission reductions, aligned with the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. It also includes a commitment to widen the scope of UBC’s climate action planning to include areas that extend beyond UBC’s operations, such as commuting, air travel and food, where UBC also has control or influence over emissions.

To meet these commitments, CAP 2030 will define new emissions reduction actions and targets, along with implementation strategies for the next 10 years.

The CAP 2030 process is underway at both Vancouver and Okanagan campuses. 

Working Group Process

In April 2020, the Board of Governors reaffirmed that climate action is a high priority, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the UBC Board of Governors endorsed climate action as a key sustainability focus area for UBC campuses. Following this leadership endorsement, the CAP 2030 process launched in May 2020 with the creation of a number of Working Groups for the campuses, each focused on the following topics:

  • Energy Supply and Buildings
  • Commuting
  • Business Air Travel
  • Embodied Carbon
  • Food
  • Financial Tools
  • Communications and Engagement
  • Waste, Materials and Paper
  • Fleet

Working group membership includes faculty, staff, student and external subject matter experts. 

Specifically, the working groups are responsible for developing options that will accelerate UBC’s emissions reductions, and will also be informed by what was heard through the UBC Climate Emergency Engagement that began in late February and closed in late June 2020.

Timeline

Emerging directions, preliminary targets and draft implementation pathways for larger impact areas will be presented to the Board of Governors in Fall/Winter 20/21. Following direction from the Board of Governors on these options, a plan will then be drafted. The CAP 2030 planning process is expected to be complete in Spring/Summer 2021.

Nest rooftop garden
The rooftop garden on the AMS Nest building.

Existing Climate Action Plan (2020)

Download the Climate Action Plan

UBC plays a unique role as a global leader in sustainability and a hub for technological innovation and research. For over 20 years, sustainability has been at our foundation – in campus operations, research, teaching, and student engagement. We commit our entire community, including our land, assets and utilities, to sustainability research, teaching and learning.

In 2010, UBC’s Board of Governors approved the UBC Climate Action Plan (CAP), which provided a pathway to net zero emissions from the Vancouver campus by 2050. A subsequent update to the Climate Action Plan in 2016 selected technologies to achieve significant short term reductions, primarily via an expansion of the Bio-energy Research and Demonstration Facility.

Other Downloads

The primary target of the Climate Action Plan is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 100% from 2007 levels by 2050.

The Plan has a number of goals that are categorized by 6 reduction areas:

  1. Existing Buildings
  2. New Buildings
  3. Energy Supply
  4. Behaviour Change
  5. Fleet
  6. Complimentary Opportunities

To read about the Plan targets and goals in detail, download the Climate Action Plan.

In 2019, UBC was named the #1 global university for taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts by Times Higher Education, guided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #13. UBC has set some of the most aggressive GHG reduction targets in North America. In 2018, our Vancouver campus emitted 38% less GHG emissions than it did in 2007, despite a 21% growth in building floor space and a 32% increase in student population.

Over the past 10 years, multiple projects have significantly reduced GHG emissions at the UBC Vancouver Campus:

 

Campus Energy Centre

The 45MW Campus Energy Centre is a hot water district energy system that replaced the campus’ 90-year-old steam system used to heat many of our buildings. This upgrade improved energy efficiency by over 24%, reduced GHG emissions by 20%, and reduced operational costs by $5.5 million per year.

Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility

Each year the Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility (BRDF) converts approximately 9000 tonnes of locally sourced clean wood waste to produce over 25% of the total campus thermal energy (building heating and hot water). An expansion is for this facility is under construction and is anticipated to be completed by early 2021, which will significantly reduce our GHG emissions and our reliance on fossil fuels such as natural gas for heating.

The Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility at UBC
The Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility at UBC

Building Tune-up Program

Since implementation, the Building Tune-up Program has retrofitted and recommissioned many new and existing buildings on campus.

UBC has offset operational GHG emissions since 2010 as part of the British Columbia Carbon Neutral Government Program. Annual Carbon Neutral Action Reports are required under the province's carbon neutral regulation. The reports track UBC's actions and progress towards carbon neutrality, and our achievements toward the goals of UBC's Climate Action Plan.

 

Download the latest annual Carbon Neutral Action Report

To address climate action and greenhouse gas emission reduction in UBC's residential neighbourhoods, we developed a plan that identifies an energy and emissions strategy that will result in an 85% reduction in GHG emissions and a 36% reduction in electricity use by 2050.

Learn more about the Community Energy and Emissions Plan 

Climate Action Planning Timeline

2009
UBC adopts Sustainability Academic Strategy
2009

UBC adopts Sustainability Academic Strategy

Identified the need for climate-related goals and targets.

2010
UBC adopts Climate Action Plan
2010

UBC adopts Climate Action Plan

Identified UBC's first vision for Climate Action.

2016
Major update to a Climate Action Plan 2020
2016

Major update to a Climate Action Plan 2020

Outlined actions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 67% from 2007 levels by 2020.

December 5, 2019
UBC declares Climate Emergency
December 5, 2019

UBC declares Climate Emergency

The declaration received unanimous support from the Board of Governors. 

Spring 2020
Climate Emergency Engagement
Spring 2020

Climate Emergency Engagement

Pop-up booths, an in-person forum and virtual dialogues were held to collect community feedback about the climate emergency. 

Summer 2020
Climate Action Plan 2030 process begins
Summer 2020

Climate Action Plan 2030 process begins

CAP 2030 Working Groups process launches.

Spring/Summer 2021
CAP 2030 process expected to be completed.
Spring/Summer 2021

CAP 2030 process expected to be completed.

Expected completion and launch of a new Climate Action Plan with a 2030 vision for UBC.