Queen’s to announce Climate Action Plan

University unveils initiative based on 2010 environment pledge

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In today's Board of Trustees meeting, Queen’s University will publicly unveil its plan to become completely carbon neutral by the year 2040.

With milestone targets for 2020 and 2030, the Queen’s Climate Action Plan (CAP) is a university-wide initiative with both short-term and long-term goals, as well as strategies to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG).

The initiative is a part of Queen’s commitment to the University and College Presidents’ Climate Change Statement of Action for Canada — a pledge to make institutions environmentally conscious.

Principal Woolf signed the pledge in 2010. Queen’s was one of 25 signatories, which included other Ontario post-secondary institutions such as Trinity College, McMaster, St. Lawrence and Sheridan College.

In 2008, Queen’s conducted a GHG inventory — a test to establish a baseline with which to measure future emissions reductions. The University measured its total emissions for 2008 at 57,716 metric tonne carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e).

 

Source: Queen’s Climate Action Plan

The report sorts emissions into two categories: Scope 1 emissions and Scope 2 emissions. Scope 1 emissions are those that arise directly from the sources owned or controlled by Queen’s and Scope 2 are emissions created by electricity consumed by the university.

The GHG inventory found that Queen's Scope 1 emissions were approximately 43,500 MTCO2e and Scope 2 to be around 14,200 tonnes CO2e.

 

 Source: Queen’s Climate Action Plan

In the CAP outline, Queen’s says that it’s aiming to reduce GHG inventory by 35 per cent in 2020, 70 per cent by 2030 and eventually achieving a 100 per cent reduction of emissions in 2040.

Between 2008 and 2014, CAP reports that Queen’s had already reduced its emissions by 17 per cent. Recent efforts included investing in a new, higher-efficiency boiler in the university’s central heating plant.

The University began to use natural gas as a heating fuel and has reduced its Ontario energy grid emissions. Queen’s also undertook a lighting retrofit program, which has helped to reduce energy usage and emissions.

Alongside its environmental initiatives, the University entered an energy performance contract with Honeywell – a conglomerate engineering company – last December. The contract guarantees Queen’s an annual utility savings of $946,000 in exchange for implementing more than 170 energy conservation measures in 66 campus buildings.

The CAP report also states that the University will proceed with expanding its presence in environmental academics, incorporating climate change into the curriculum and creating student extracurricular programs regarding climate change. Examples of student groups mentioned in CAP include the AMS Commission of the Environment and Sustainability, the Queen’s Solar Design Team, the Earth Centre and Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change (QBACC).

Principal Woolf told The Journal via email that a vice-principal will be charged with leading a working group to implement the climate action plan.

“The group will include academic, administrative and student representation, and will recommend actionable items to help Queen’s achieve its emissions reduction targets,” he wrote.

“Members of the working group will consider a number of factors when looking at potential emissions reduction strategies, including their overall impact and their financial implications.”

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