The following message was broadcast by Santa J. Ono, President and Vice-Chancellor, on November 4, 2021.
Dear members of the UBC community: I would like to begin by acknowledging that I am speaking to you from the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Musqueam people.
COP26, the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, is now underway in Glasgow. I am proud to say that a delegation of eight UBC students, faculty members and staff are attending this critical event.
The UBC delegates will deepen their understanding of how global climate negotiations work, with positive impacts for their research and programs. They will also share UBC’s exemplary work on the climate emergency with this global gathering, and share their experiences with the wider UBC community when they return. Please check out UBC’s COP26 website at sustain.ubc.ca/cop26.
Many people believe COP26 will be the world’s last best chance to get runaway climate change under control.
I understand and share the community’s concerns regarding the climate crisis and the need for urgent collective and individual action.
UBC has committed to – and is now implementing – full divestment of its investments from fossil fuels.
Since the beginning of 2020, UBC has transitioned $214 million to fossil-fuel-free or low carbon investments — representing over 20% of our public equity holdings — and currently only 1.4% of the endowment is estimated to be exposed to fossil fuel investments.
Divestment alone does not address climate change; it is, however, one large step. That is why UBC has also committed to reducing our carbon emissions footprint by 45% by 2030 in line with Paris Agreement targets needed to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees by 2050.
UBC is proud of being recognized as a top three university for taking urgent action to combat climate change in 2021, ranked #1 in both 2019 and 2020. This recognition comes not just from our efforts to divest from fossil fuels, but in all aspects of our operations and within our university community.
In 2020, UBC became a signatory to the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), and a founding signatory of Investing to Address Climate Change: A Charter for Canadian Universities.
UBC is actively working to create the most sustainable campuses in the world, and has been pursuing this goal since 2010, when our first Climate Action Plan set some of the most aggressive greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets for a post-secondary institution in North America.
Thanks to an expansion of our Bioenergy Research & Demonstration Facility, we are advancing toward a 63% reduction in GHG emissions since 2007 by the end of this year.
Our ambitious new climate action plan, which goes to the Board of Governors later this month, will accelerate our efforts. It commits the university to achieving net-zero operational emissions by 2035, a full 15 years ahead of the previous target date.
I will share more details of the new Climate Action Plan with you in the coming weeks.
It is customary for me to give a shout-out to a UBC unsung hero each week, and this week I have the honour of recognizing everyone at UBC who is working to find a solution to the climate crisis — thank you for your advocacy and your efforts.
Santa J. Ono President and Vice-Chancellor