The term “carbon neutrality” is used to describe the elimination of as much carbon dioxide as is emitted by an organization, business, and individual. Oftentimes, this is accomplished through reducing waste and energy usage and implementing sustainability-centric policies.
At the beginning of October, KPU signed a letter committing to reach carbon neutrality across all campuses by 2050. Schools across the world have signed the letter — which was organized by three different organizations dedicated to taking climate action — although KPU is the only university in Western Canada to have signed it so far.
One of the organizations, Second Nature, spreads awareness about the importance of carbon offsetting and reducing carbon emissions. The Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education, which aims to cultivate a more environmentally sustainable world, and the United Nations Youth and Education Alliance, which supports environmental education in global university curricula and collaborates with youth organizations, are the other organizers behind the letter.
“As an institution, we have actually been looking at this for a long time,” says KPU President Alan Davis. “It has been met with unanimous support by all the faculties, and the board …. It seemed like the right thing to do at the right time, to reaffirm our commitment to carbon neutrality.”
Davis says that KPU is in the process of defining what its action plan will look like. Still, there are factors KPU has control over such as how it attains its energy and which supplies KPU chooses to buy and use.
“It’s my responsibility [to oversee the plans] while I’m president at least,” he says.
Even though the university already prioritizes increasing its carbon offsets, Davis adds that it will ideally continue to minimize its emissions and footprint as an institution.
As part of KPU’s preparation to release its next action plan, it will be systematically looking at replacing broken equipment with more sustainable alternatives.
“It is going to cost some money. We’re always strapped for money. We have to go through the budget plan and make it a priority,” says Davis.
He says students can be at the forefront of this change, and encourages them to hold the institution accountable to its commitment to carbon neutrality.
KPU is also looking for ideas and suggestions from students on how it can achieve carbon neutrality. Students interested in taking part in this, and otherwise contributing to the next action plan, can email Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Carbon Neutral Ideas.”