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UBC Reports | Vol. 53 | No. 9 | Sep. 6, 2007

Letter to the Editor

More Work to be Done on Reducing UBC GHG Emissions

Dear Editor:

UBC has claimed success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) to six per cent below 1990 levels, thus meeting 2012 Kyoto targets (UBC Reports July, 2007). While this article accurately reflects public information from the UBC Sustainability Office (UBC-SO), actual GHGs are more likely over 50 per cent higher than 1990 levels. UBC’s Kyoto analysis is not public information, but the UBC-SO did kindly provide clarifications to me upon request.

The reality is that UBC’s Kyoto analysis only counts academic and ancillary building operations such as space heat and maintenance vans. In spite of U Pass, ground transportation GHGs (by faculty, staff, & students) have increased roughly 25 per cent since 1990, but are not counted. Electricity use has grown from 145 to 165 million kWh since 2004 (due to growth in electric baseboard heat), but there is no accounting for BC Hydro’s need to import coal-fired power (at 45 times higher GHG intensity) since 2004.

UBC is projected to collect $1.3 billion in endowment revenue by leasing land which is subsequently deforested, constructed with housing and shops, and populated with people driving cars. Yet this massive development effort is assumed to be 100 per cent someone else’s responsibility. If other companies, institutions, or governments at any level use the same GHG accounting, then the majority of global GHG growth will not be counted by anyone.

The UBC-SO deserves kudos for its outstanding efforts. However we, collectively as a University Town, have only scratched the surface in capping our GHGs to 1990 levels. To truly make progress towards a climate neutral community, we need complete and public accounting of all GHG emissions (including air travel, and UBC’s off campus assets), transparent reporting of assumed responsibilities for emissions, aggressive GHG reduction programs, and (at least in the near term) purchases of large quantities of offsets.

Eric Mazzi, Ph.D. Candidate, Institute for Resources, Environment, & Sustainability

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Last reviewed 06-Sep-2007

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