UBC Vancouver Climate Action Plan 2030

Updated: July 20, 2021
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Rooftop garden in the Nest
Thanks to all that participated in the CAP 2030 public consultation from March 29 - April 16, 2021. Learn more about the draft plan and what we heard from our consultation.

What is CAP 2030?

Watch this webinar for an overview of the UBC Vancouver Climate Action Plan 2030 emerging directions and targets.

In December 2019, UBC declared a climate emergency, which included a commitment to accelerate the reduction of emissions at UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan. A key step is UBC’s development of a Climate Action Plan 2030 (CAP 2030) for both campuses.  

Visit the UBC Okanagan CAP 2030 website to learn more about their plan and engagement process.  

Overview

CAP 2030 at UBC Vancouver is building on earlier climate action plans, the climate emergency engagement process, and successes in climate change mitigation and action, which have resulted in significant emissions reductions from core operations. However, CAP 2030 is enabling UBC to accelerate the pathway to becoming net zero through clean energy solutions and energy-efficient technologies, as well as identifying new ways to reduce emissions in areas that every university community member has influence over including commuting, food, waste, and business air travel.

Emerging directions and draft targets for CAP 2030 were presented to the Board of Governors in February 2021. The final CAP 2030 will be presented to the Board of Governors in November 2021 and will incorporate direction from the Board of Governors, refinement of targets and actions through on- going studies, as well as input received through public engagement.

Campus Engagement 

From March 29 – April 16, 2021, the Campus and Community Planning team lead an engagement process for the entire university community.  This was an opportunity for staff, students and faculty to learn about the emerging CAP 2030, ask questions, and share perspectives.  

Through our online survey and virtual events, we heard from 764 participants about the emerging CAP 2030, and the barriers and opportunities for climate action on campus.  

Feedback received focused on indirect  emissions, which are emissions that are related to individual behaviors such as commuting, food choices and waste.  

What We Heard 

Below is a snapshot of the main themes that we heard from the UBC community during the public engagement period.  

 

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CAP 2030 themes

You can also read our Engagement Summary Report to learn more about our public engagement process and the feedback that was collected during this period. Included in this report are the detailed comments received through our public engagement activities, and verbatim survey responses.  

UBC Vancouver CAP 2030 Engagement Summary Report (PDF)

Here’s how you can take-action now 

The final CAP 2030 will be presented to the Board of Governors in November 2021. But you don’t need to wait until the plan is finalized to start taking action on climate change. 

For details on the UBC Vancouver CAP 2030 emerging directions and draft targets, click on the expandable menu items below. 

CAP 2030 will position UBC as a model of how universities can mobilize to address the climate emergency and targets in the Paris Agreement through bold, impactful actions to accelerate and deepen reductions across operations, and expanded action on reducing indirect emissions.

The specific objectives of CAP 2030 include:

  • Setting new targets to be achieved by 2030;
  • Accelerating the emissions reductions of campus operations from the current 2050 target date;
  • Expanding CAP scope to include areas of influence that extend beyond UBC’s operations, such as commuting, business air travel, and food.

Learn more about the catalysts for CAP 2030 in the FAQ.

UBC’s sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are divided into two types:

UBC greenhouse gas emission sources

  • Campus Operations: These are greenhouse emissions generated mainly from the operations of buildings and the supply of energy (referred to as Scope 1 and 2 emissions). UBC is directly responsible for these emissions and must pay BC carbon tax and offsets for them. Campus Operations emissions account for 29% of all UBC Vancouver campus emissions.

Greenhouse gas emission sources
*Extended Impact emissions are estimated and less accurate than Campus Operations. For the Waste & Materials category, emissions shown only include those from disposal and do not include life cycle emissions, which are much larger.

  • Extended Impacts: These are emissions generated from UBC-related activities of students, faculty and staff, including commuting to and from campus, business air travel, food, waste, as well as building materials (often referred to as Scope 3 emissions). UBC has indirect influence over these emissions through behavioral change programs, sustainable supply chain procurement guidelines and other actions and initiatives. These emissions account for 71% of the total campus emissions.

Note: Climate actions for UBC's residential neighbourhoods are identified under UBC's Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP). 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 new residential buildings. This strategy will help inform future updates of the CEEP which will include public engagement with neighbourhood residents and other stakeholders.

In April 2020, the 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.

The CAP 2030 planning process is building on the significant success that UBC has had to date for campus operations. It is also leveraging recommendations from the climate emergency engagement process as well as expertise across UBC through topic-based working groups and technical committees.

The Working Groups and committees are comprised of faculty, staff, students, and external subject matter expert focused on the following topics:

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

 

The working groups have been responsible for developing options that will accelerate UBC’s emissions reductions, informed by the work of the Climate Emergency Task Force. Emerging directions and draft targets for CAP 2030 were presented to the Board of Governors in February 2021. 

Please refer to the timeline at the bottom of this webpage to learn more about UBC's climate action milestones and key steps in the planning process.

The CAP 2030 process builds on UBC’s past successes in climate action, where there have already been significant emissions reductions from core operations. However, CAP 2030 is enabling UBC to significantly extend its global climate leadership by developing an accelerated pathway for UBC to become net zero and for the first time includes indirect (“extended impact”) emissions from commuting, air travel, food, and waste.

A summary of the CAP 2030 emerging directions and broad targets are presented below, you can find more detailed targets in the other sections. You can also refer to the report presented to the Board of Governors for more details. 

 

Campus Operations

For 2030, a target range of 75% to 100% GHG emission reduction below 2007 has been identified for the campus operations.

This target will be refined through further analysis during 2021, noting that UBC is projecting a 62% GHG reduction over 2007 levels with the completion of the Bioenergy facility expansion project.

 

Extended Impacts

For 2030, a target for 45% reduction from 2010 levels has been identified for extended emission in the areas of commuting, business air travel, food, waste, and embodied carbon.

The chart below shows that if all the proposed actions are implemented in these areas, we will achieve the Paris Agreement 1.5C target which is also in line with the mandate of the UBC climate emergency declaration.

Extended impacts chart showing Paris Agreement targets

 

Draft Targets and Actions for Campus Operations

UBC’s campus operations emissions are from buildings and energy supply, fleet, and paper. The majority (96%) of operations emissions come from heating and operating buildings with natural gas.

To meet the 2030 target range of 75% to 100% GHG emission reduction below 2007 levels the following four climate action areas have been identified for deep exploration and costing. For the more details, please refer to the full report presented to the Board of Governors in February 2021.

Academic District Energy System

By 2030, 100% of the energy used by the Academic District Energy System (ADES) will come from low carbon sources.

Alternative District Energy System

Key Actions:

  • Evaluation of low carbon energy sources and strategies to decarbonize the ADES and conduct detailed technical and financial feasibility of short-listed options.
  • Starting in 2025, implement solutions identified from on-going studies, with a goal of 100% low carbon energy by 2030.

Buildings

By 2030, new buildings and building renewals will target near zero operational emissions, and existing building emissions will be reduced to reach a target to be confirmed.

Key Actions:

  • Eliminate fossil fuel equipment installation in new and existing buildings, unless sufficient amounts of renewable natural gas are secured.
  • Develop GHG Intensity targets for new buildings.
  • Develop a building decarbonization plan that integrates with maintenance and renewal programs, and following this, strategically implement building retrofits over time based on life cycle cost and GHG analysis on a case-by-case basis.

FleetUBC fleet vehicles

UBC will procure new vehicles and equipment that are zero emissions where feasible solutions exist.

Key Actions:

  • Establish a zero emission vehicle (ZEV) first procurement policy.
  • Expand UBC fleet management program and continue to pursue fleet optimization.
  • Develop ZEV charging and maintenance strategy to support ZEV transition.

    Financial Mechanisms to Support Climate Action: Internal Carbon Pricing

    Better align UBC’s financial decision making with our climate goals, by explicitly accounting for damages of GHGs in a predictable and consistent manner.

    Key Actions:

    • Finalize a starting price level and price schedule, pilot with several projects, and develop a supporting resource toolkit
    • Implement a carbon proxy price to inform decision making for energy projects, capital projects and fleet purchases going forward

      Draft Targets and Actions for Extended Impacts

      CAP 2030 is the first time UBC has made an explicit mandate to reduce Extended Impact emissions, and given UBC has less direct control over these emissions sources, the success of UBC’s climate action requires all parts of the UBC community to be engaged and to participate in order to achieve collective impact.

      To meet the 2030 target of 45% GHG emission reduction below 2007 level, the following six areas have been identified for deep exploration and costing. For more details, please refer to the report presented to the Board of Governors in February 2021.

      Commuting

      Biker on campusBy 2030, achieve a 45% reduction in commuting emissions from 2010 levels.

      Key Actions:

      • Embrace remote working, flex days, and e-learning
      • Explore the potential for a “Sustainable Transportation Levy” to fund actions as part of parking permit fees and/or restructuring of parking permit fees to daily only
      • Establish a Sustainable Transportation Program to deliver infrastructure and programs to drive behaviour change including cycling and use of electric vehicles
      • Continue to pursue a SkyTrain connection to campus by 2030

      Business Air Travel

      By 2030, reduce Business Air Travel emissions by 50% from pre-COVID levels.

      Key Actions:

      • Track and report GHG emissions and for all UBC business air travel
      • Develop and implement an air travel emissions reduction program that supports and promotes the use of virtual alternatives, addresses barriers and leverages partnerships such as the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3)

      Food

      UBC farm food growingBy 2030, achieve a 50% GHG emission reduction associated with food systems.

      Key Actions:

      • Develop a Food Systems Climate Action strategy that includes supplier code of conduct and new procurement guidelines
      • Enhance and streamline measurement and reporting of food system GHG emissions and other indicators
      • Implement climate food labelling

      Waste and Materials

      By 2030, UBC will apply a circular economy lens to enable a 50% reduction in waste, progressing to a zero waste community.

      Key Actions:

      • Zero Waste Action Plan update for 2021 to include Waste Operations Strategy and scaling up reuse programs

      Engagement and Outreach Programs

      By 2030, two-thirds (66%) of UBC faculty, staff and students will be aware of and actively contributing toward UBC’s climate action goals.

      Key Actions:

      • Create a more integrated, cross campus communications and engagement management model to review, coordinate and support campaigns for climate action

      Embodied Carbon in Buildings

      By 2030, establish an embodied carbon baseline and align new building and renewal designs with a 50% reduction target.

      Key Actions:

      • Develop a guideline for assessing and reducing embodied carbon, a carbon “red list”, pursue research collaborations, and explore equitably sourced materials
      • Climate Justice: 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. 
      • Partnerships: The success of CAP 2030 will require UBC to leverage internal and external strategic partnerships. Opportunities include Campus as a Living Lab program to identify climate initiatives and projects that support both operational objectives and academic research interests, as well as industry and government partnerships. Partnerships with student groups will be explored that help increase climate awareness and collective action. On a global scale, UBC will also continue to play a leadership role in networks such as University Climate Change Coalition (UC3), The U7 Alliance (U7+), International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN), and University Alliance for Sustainability.
      • Campus Housing: Providing student, faculty and staff housing on campus also plays a significant role in helping to reduce commuting emissions as well as contributing to the UBC’s strategic plan objectives to improve health and wellbeing and creating thriving campus communities. Continued implementation of the Housing Action Plan is critical to support climate action.
      • Adaptation, Resiliency and Biodiversity: The first phase of CAP 2030 is focusing on mitigation efforts, however, we also need to increase the ability for our campus to become more resilient and adaptive in the face of climate crisis events. As part of the next phase, we will begin to scope and initiate the development of an Adaptation and Resiliency Strategy and the development of a campus biodiversity strategy.

      Over the next 7 months, Campus and Community Planning will continue to refine the targets and actions developed thus far and identify the resources needed to ensure successful implementation.

      Key next steps include:

      • Technical and financial studies on building and district energy system decarbonization strategies (to continue into 2022 and beyond).
      • Scoping and development of communications and engagement campaign support in high impact extended emission areas.
      • Completion of the Bioenergy Facility expansion and continuation of existing energy conservation initiatives and behavior change programs.
      • Developing a resourcing strategy including confirmation of resourcing needs and exploration of funding sources.
      • Creating a final draft CAP 2030 for presentation to Board in November 2021.

      Read the February 2021 Board of Governors Report for more details.

      Climate Action Timeline

      2010
      UBC adopts first Climate Action Plan
      2010

      UBC adopts first Climate Action Plan

      Identified UBC Vancouver's first vision for climate action.

      2016
      Major update to the Climate Action Plan
      2016

      Major update to the Climate Action Plan

      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 process
      Spring 2020

      Climate Emergency Engagement process

      An extensive community consultation process consolidated input from both in-person and online consultations to inform the Climate Emergency Task Force.

      May 2020
      CAP 2030 process launches
      May 2020

      CAP 2030 process launches

      Working Groups formed around each of the priority areas for CAP 2030.

      Summer/Fall 2020
      CAP 2030 emerging directions and draft targets confirmed
      Summer/Fall 2020

      CAP 2030 emerging directions and draft targets confirmed

      Developed by the Working Groups.

      February 2021
      Emerging Directions presented to the Board of Governors
      February 2021

      Emerging Directions presented to the Board of Governors

      A report for both campuses was presented.

      March/April 2021
      Public Consultation on CAP 2030
      March/April 2021

      Public Consultation on CAP 2030

      Public engagement around the Emerging Directions and Draft Targets.

      Spring- Fall 2021
      Draft CAP 2030
      Spring- Fall 2021

      Draft CAP 2030

      Will be informed by direction from the Board of Governors, public consultation, and further studies.

      November 2021
      Present CAP 2030 to the Board of Governors
      November 2021

      Present CAP 2030 to the Board of Governors

      Final approval of CAP 2030 for both campuses.

      Questions?

      Check out an FAQ about the CAP 2030 consultation.

      If you have additional questions, reach out to Madeleine Zammar, Manager of Engagement at: madeleine.zammar@ubc.ca.