SFU formally declares a global climate emergency

April 04, 2022

Following its acknowledgement of the global climate emergency last fall, in January the SFU Board of Governors approved a move to change its institutional language and has formally declared a global climate emergency.

The word change from acknowledge to declare, supported by SFU 350 and other groups within the university, signals that SFU is committed to accelerate sustained and meaningful action to avoid catastrophic climate change and restore a safe climate, while ensuring our communities can adapt to climate impacts, especially the most vulnerable.

A climate emergency declaration goes beyond simply acknowledging that we face a climate emergency. Instead, it signifies the initiation of “emergency mode” and a shift away from business as usual, empowering the university to take unprecedented executive action to mitigate and adapt to the emergency.

The declaration aligns with SFU's committment and actions outlined in the SFU 2025 Sustainability Plan (SFU 2025), which will mobilize the resources needed to take concrete action to confront the climate crisis through a just and inclusive framework. SFU joins numerous other academic institutions as well as cities, provinces and countries that have formally made the declaration.

SFU 2025 is currently being updated with recent pledges related to divestment and the United Nations-led Race To Zero campaign.

Earlier this year, the board also approved a mandate for a Climate Action and Sustainability Committee to oversee the university's sustainability and climate action commitments, including its Race To Zero targets. The committee will hold its first meeting in March.

Numerous actions are also underway, including:

  • Updating SFU 2025 decarbonization incremental targets, to ensure SFU achieves its 2030, 2025, and Race To Zero targets.
  • Integrating the university’s commitment to divest from fossil fuels by 2025 into the plan.
  • Continued community engagement with the Sustainability Advisory Council which has broad representation from equity-deserving groups and a large student presence. SFU management also commits to continuing to apply a climate justice lens to sustainability work, and to developing a new climate action plan (SFU 2030) in close collaboration with the Council.
  • Discussions to create a Climate Hub or other mechanism to increase student voice in decision-making are in motion this spring with SFU 350, Embark and SFU Sustainability.
  • More than 230 sustainability-related courses and several programs are offered at SFU. The Climate Action Student Collaborative is an example of a co-curricular program available to all SFU students in all programs.

For more information about SFU’s actions for sustainable development and climate action and how to engage with this work, visit www.sfu.ca/sustainability and www.sfu.ca/sdgs.

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