On February 24, UNB launched its new Climate Change Action Plan. This is the first climate change plan implemented by a New Brunswick university.
In an email to students, UNB President and Vice-Chancellor Paul Mazerolle discussed the planned changes. After “extensive public consultation and engagement, and meetings with stakeholders on both campuses,” UNB has identified carbon emissions targets for 2025 and 2035 and has the goal of being carbon neutral by 2050. They intend to focus on energy, infrastructure, transportation, education, programs, waste management, and sustainable ground.
Energy and infrastructure
Pre-existing improvements in energy and infrastructure include an Energy Management Program on the Fredericton campus, which has saved “millions of dollars.” UNB has also invested in renewable energy, energy saving systems and LED retrofitting. On the Saint John campus, UNB is in the process of building an environmentally friendly residence building.
UNB Saint John has a car sharing program and promotes sustainable transportation during Transportation Month. There are also anti-idling policies in place on both campuses.
Education, programs, waste management
UNB has integrated climate change into curriculums, developed climate change hubs, and established the Environment and Natural Resource undergrad program to explore and solve climate related issues. There is a Free Cycle room at the Saint John campus, which allows students to exchange books and other items which would otherwise be thrown out.
Saint John and Fredericton have community gardens, recycle electronic components or otherwise disposes of them properly, and intends to explore alternative opportunities to reduce campus waste. UNB stats that they will explore more opportunities for composting and recycling.
UNB plants 10 trees a year and intends to develop a “master plan to incorporate the environmental changes anticipated due to increased extreme weather events and temperatures.”
Transparency and accountability are also addressed in the plan. Progress will be assessed through information collection through the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System. The Climate Change Action Committee, which consists of staff, faculty, students, government officials, and other experts, created the plan, which is partially funded by the provincial government.
What should students expect?
UNB’s sustainability coordinator, Danielle Smith, said that students should expect to see changes phased in within the next 5 years, as well as increased opportunities to access formal and informal education on the topic.
“These changes will happen within the next 5 years, with the further planning thereafter that will leverage the latest research and technology.” Smith said.
Smith believes we will be carbon neural by 2050 but admits that, when dealing with the future, there are always unknowns. “Anytime you are looking 30 years into the future there is a lot of uncertainty. This is why we have both short and long-term targets in order to insure that stay on track.”
Along with UNB, others colleges in the Atlantic University and College Sustainability Network are just as dedicated to climate action and she believes “it is only a matter of time before other institutions in New Brunswick will follow suit.”