Climate Action Plan 2030 FAQs

Below are some frequently asked questions about UBC Vancouver CAP 2030.

If you have additional questions, reach out to Madeleine Zammar, Manager of Engagement at:

A climate action plan lays out a path to reduce carbon emissions, with targets and actions to achieve those targets. UBC’s Climate Action Plan 2030 will map out where we need to focus our efforts and resources to enable our campus communities, infrastructure, and buildings to be able to proactively address and respond to climate change.

John Madden, Director of Sustainability at Campus and Community Planning, explains the impetus to develop CAP 2030 in this article:

"One big impetus is to respond to the December 2019 UBC Declaration on the Climate Emergency, which was championed by student mobilization and endorsed unanimously by the Board of Governors. The declaration set out a number of commitments, including accelerating our ambitions around climate change mitigation.

It’s also time to update our plan. When we developed our first climate action plan in 2010, we didn't really know the technological pathways and all the measures and actions that would get us to our long-range targets of net zero by 2050. And a lot has changed since our last Climate Action Plan update in 2016. There are a host of new and innovative low-carbon technologies, opportunities for UBC’s buildings to reduce carbon both in operations and in the materials used (or not used). And there has been a scheduled increase on the price of emitting carbon to reflect the impacts and account for the significant cost of inaction which creates a financial incentive for UBC’s buildings to reduce its carbon and energy footprint.

And another big motivator is the 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that warned we had 12 years left to act before catastrophic impacts around climate change would affect our lifestyle and our planetary health. Two years on, we essentially have just a decade to act!"

For more details about these factors influencing UBC’s CAP 2030 process, refer to the report presented to the Board of Governors.

In December 2019, UBC declared a climate emergency, which included a commitment to accelerate the reduction of emissions at UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan as well as adding new actions to help reduce GHG emissions beyond UBC’s current climate targets, such as emissions from travel and food. A key step is UBC’s development of a Climate Action Plan 2030 (CAP 2030) for both campuses.  The emerging plans are also informed by the feedback we received from UBC faculty, staff and students through the climate emergency engagement process.

Throughout the development of the CAP 2030 working groups integrated a climate justice lens across emerging climate actions and to help address specific questions framed through the Climate Emergency Task Force. Addressing climate justice was particularly relevant when developing climate actions related to food systems, commuting, and business air travel so that we work to define ways to reduce greenhouse emissions in an equitable manner and recognizing that the choices we make have a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable. 

Our understanding of climate justice will continue to evolve and we will seek to integrate this learning into informing our policy and guidelines. Additionally, in collaboration with other units such as UBC Sustainability Initiative (USI) and the Climate Hub, we will continue to identify ways that the Climate Emergency Task Force recommendations can be addressed through the scope of CAP 2030.

Climate action has been a priority for UBC for the past two decades. Key milestones include:

  • 2010: UBC has set some of the most aggressive GHG reduction targets in North America. The 2010 Climate Action Plan committed UBC to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from campus operations by 100% from 2007 levels by 2050.
  • 2015: The Paris Agreement  – a legally binding international treaty on climate change – was adopted by 196 Parties at the UN Conference of the Parties (COP) 21 in Paris in December. Its goal is to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.
  • 2016:
    • UBC achieves a 33% reduction in GHG emissions. Key accomplishments that enabled these reductions included:
      • Efficient, green building design and ongoing energy conservation projects including the Building Tune-up program
      • The Bioenergy Research and Demonstration Facility (BRDF)
    • UBC updates its Climate Action Plan 2020 which selected actions and technologies aimed at reaching the 2020 reduction target of 67 per cent.
  • 2018: UBC achieved an overall 38 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from the 2007 baseline (building energy, UBC vehicles and paper), despite a 21 per cent increase in building floor space and a 32 percent increase in student enrollment. Building on the earlier accomplishments, completing the district energy steam-to-hot water conversion was a key project.
  • 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 Declares a Climate Emergency, which included a commitment to accelerate the reduction of emissions at UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan. 
  • 2020: Climate Action Plan 2030 (CAP2030) process launches for both campuses which is a key step in acting on the recommendations of the Climate Emergency by setting targets to significantly accelerate emissions reductions.
  • 2021: Upon completion this spring and summer the BRDF expansion project will reduce UBC’s greenhouse gas emissions from campus operations by an estimated 62% compared to the 2007 baseline, enabling UBC to outperform the Paris Agreement 1.5C target of 45% GHG reduction

No -- UBC’s Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP) identifies climate actions for UBC’s residential neighbourhoods. Implementation of the CEEP is being advanced partially through the UBC Residential Environmental Assessment Program (REAP), which includes measures to reduce energy and emissions. UBC has also initiated a Neighbourhood Low Carbon Energy Strategy (NLCES) to identify pathways to accelerate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions and increase resiliency in future neighbourhood developments.  This strategy will help inform future updates of the CEEP which will include public engagement with neighbourhood residents and other stakeholders.

You don’t need to wait until the CAP 2030 is finalized to start taking action on climate change. Check out the list of ways to get involved as well as the tips from John Madden, the Director of Sustainability and Engineering at Campus and Community Planning.