The University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis.

In face of increases, university extends deadline for greenhouse gas reduction

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U of S council members vote to pass a motion at the University Council meeting on Oct. 17, 2019. | Victoria Becker/ Photo Editor

The university has proposed a revised plan to reach their greenhouse gas reduction targets by 2023, passing over the 2020 deadline established by their Climate Plan.

The change comes after the University of Saskatchewan reported greenhouse gas emissions higher than would be expected for one year before the deadline. The university’s 2012 Climate Plan committed the U of S to reducing their emissions by 20 per cent from 2006-07 levels by 2020; instead, the numbers for the 2018-19 fiscal year show a 7.8 overall increase. 

The Sheaf received this data in a statement from Greg Fowler, the U of S vice-president finance and resources. Before these numbers were known to the public, Irena Creed, associate vice-president research and newly-appointed special advisor to the president on sustainability, announced an increase in emissions to the members of the University Council during the Oct. 17 meeting.

“We are a growing campus so overall we are increasing our greenhouse gas emissions, but on a per metre basis we are reducing them,” Creed said.

Creed was referencing the 13 per cent reduction in greenhouse emissions per metre at the U of S in 2018-19 that accounts for the growth of the university since the 2006-07 baseline. In this aspect, the university has stayed the course since their most recent Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report in 2016, where they reported a 13.3 per cent reduction per metre. 

The university anticipated that the growth of campus over the years would result in higher emission rates, which was taken into account in the 2012 Climate Plan projections. The 20 per cent reduction commitment under the Climate Plan is not measured on a per metre basis. 

The next step for the university is to develop a sustainability action frame in the near future, which Creed discussed at the meeting. The process will include taking account of all the sustainability initiatives currently in development by the university that will result in big emission reductions in future years.

“We want to move quickly and that’s why we are using the language of an action plan,” Creed said. “Our timeline is ambitious. We plan to present our sustainability action plan to University Council for endorsement in the fall of next year.”

The plan will be developed in the context of national and international sustainability benchmarks, according to Creed, so that the U of S’s performance in sustainability stacks up to universities around the world.  

“At this point, it’s all in. We want to do it strategically and perhaps surgically, but we want to be the best at doing this,” Creed said.

A council member raised the concern to Creed that a lack of resources at the university will limit sustainability initiatives. Creed responded that she has discussed the topic with the university Provost Tony Vannelli and that resources will be allocated for sustainability goals.

“His comment to me was ‘Yes, we are in a financially insecure environment, but there is money for priorities and sustainability is a priority,’” Creed said. “I am confident that this is a priority of both the president and the provost and that action will be made.” 

Ana Cristina Camacho/ News Editor

Photo: Victoria Becker/ Photos Editor

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