The University of Toronto is committed to becoming climate positive.
The University of Toronto is committed to taking decisive action against climate change, one of the most pressing challenges of our time. Climate action is a priority for our students, staff, faculty, and community, and is a strategic commitment of the Office of the President.
In 2021, our St. George campus — the oldest, largest, and most energy-intensive of our three campuses — took a considerable step by launching its plan to become climate positive by 2050. This commitment will involve reducing our absolute scope one and two greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 80% and using renewables and other strategies to offset more than the remaining balance, to further reduce other emissions in Ontario.
UTM has already pledged to be carbon neutral before 2050 and created a roadmap for implementing various other sustainability initiatives through their Sustainability Strategic Plan. UTSC has also made great strides towards energy efficiency and innovations, as detailed in their UN SDG Photo Book showcasing 17 different sustainability projects.
To expand the climate positive goal across our entire institution, all three of our campuses pledge to achieve a climate positive operating model by 2050. This is an extension of our 2019 Low-Carbon Action Plan (LCAP) commitment to reduce our GHG emissions by 37% relative to 1990 levels by 2030. LCAP and this new climate positive pledge is in the spirit of our University Climate Change Coalition (UC3) commitments, which include climate resilience and just transitions; and our U7+ commitment under Principle 3, recognizing the role of universities to lead by example on our own campuses to address sustainability challenges of climate change, biodiversity, and energy transition.
By signing this letter, all three campuses are committing to a new phase of climate targets for 2050, thereby increasing both the magnitude and scope of many of our existing GHG reduction projects. We pledge to have all our campuses collaborate to become Climate Positive by sharing best practices and delivering on the following milestones:
- Create and validate comprehensive campus specific Climate Action Plans with aligned metrics to track progress and reduce absolute carbon emissions1 by at least 80% before 2050;
- Identify sustainable energy solutions to meet remaining energy needs;
- Looking forward, ensure sustainable campus growth and minimize risks.
- Achieve the LCAP carbon reduction commitments through avenues such as geoexchange for heating and building retrofits;
- Review and if necessary, revise our tri-campus Climate Action Plans, and report on progress.
- Achieve climate positive status at all three campuses;
- Create and validate a plan to further reduce GHG emissions to increase the size of the University’s carbon sink.
The time to act is now, and the University of Toronto is committed to doing our part to address the climate crisis and inspire further and necessary action around the world. We choose to aggressively lead by example and see the benefits — for the University, for our community, and for the global environment.
We urge others to join us in transforming society towards a more prosperous future that is sustainable, healthy, equitable, and inclusive.
Ron Saporta, Acting Vice-President Operations, Alexandra Gillespie, Vic-President, Principal of UTM, Wisdom Tettey, Vice-President, Principal of UTSC
- Absolute reductions refer to the total quantity of GHG emissions emitted, as opposed to an intensity calculation comparing emissions to a unit of economic output. ↩︎