UVic signs on to Race to Zero campaign

The University of Victoria is reinforcing its resolve to fight climate change and build a sustainable future by signing on to the Race to Zero (RtZ), a massive global alliance dedicated to reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, if not earlier.

The UVic executive council earlier this month supported signing and submitting the Race to Zero pledge, joining 33 other Canadian universities and colleges, and more than 1,000 higher education institutions worldwide.

The university is already a strong proponent of climate action as well as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Significant action is needed to address the global crisis of climate change, and this is one way to hold ourselves accountable and rally support as part of a global movement. Joining the Race to Zero is an important way to demonstrate our leadership in developing and contributing to climate solutions for a healthy and resilient planet.

—Kevin Hall, University of Victoria President

Since 2010, UVic has been net zero and achieved a 30 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The RtZ pledge commits to set an interim target to achieve in the next decade to reflect maximum effort toward or beyond a fair share of the 50 per cent global reduction in CO2 by 2030. An additional 20 per cent reduction in emissions will be required over the next eight years, as well as a major shift in measuring and reporting emissions.

UVic achieves net zero by following the processes set out under BC’s Carbon Neutral Government program, and legislation requiring that all provincial public sector organizations follow a regulated process to measure, reduce, offset, report and verify their greenhouse gas emissions.

“The RtZ targets support the planning currently underway in the development of our new Climate and Sustainability Action Plan,” says Mike Wilson, director of campus planning and sustainability. “The campus community will be invited to provide input on the draft goals, strategies and actions for the plan in the new year.”

The bulk of UVic’s emissions—92 per cent—result from providing heat and hot water for 35 buildings on campus, and the university is planning for the transition of its energy plant to low-carbon energy. A separate planning process is underway to determine the appropriate technical pathway to support this transition, which will protect the university against the increasing costs of carbon-pricing policy at the provincial and federal level. New technology—some of which is being researched and developed at UVic—will also present opportunities to increase the climate resiliency of campus buildings and infrastructure.

The university has adopted a responsible investment policy to lower carbon emissions across its investments by 45 per cent by 2030 and to invest in thematic impact opportunities that measure renewable power generated and GHG emissions avoided.

The Race to Zero pledge is a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change-supported global campaign to rally international leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions, investors and universities to reach a zero-carbon recovery that prevents future threats and unlocks inclusive, sustainable growth.

The campaign is building momentum ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference in Scotland (COP26) this fall, driving commitments to shift away from a carbon economy to more sustainable options.

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Keywords: climate, sustainability, environment, clean energy, administrative

People: Kevin Hall, Mike Wilson

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