SFU expands commitment to climate action

September 29, 2021

SFU deepened its commitment to sustainability and climate action today as SFU Board of Governors agreed to acknowledge the ongoing climate emergency. The university has joined the United Nations Race to Zero campaign and will soon announce new, more aggressive targets.

In 2020, SFU launched a five-year sustainability plan, which acknowledges the climate crisis and set 16 climate action targets for 2025. The university is ahead of schedule on achieving many of these targets and actions:

  • Since 2016, SFU’s GHG emissions have been reduced by 35% compared to 2007 levels, despite growth in total building area by 23%.
  • GHG reductions are expected to reach 69% this year, exceeding SFU’s 2025 emissions reduction target of 50%.
  • The university has already achieved the 2025 target to cut the carbon footprint of the investment portfolio by 45% relative to the 2016 baseline.
  • SFU has divested $340M of fossil fuel investments over the past five years.

Success in reaching targets ahead of schedule prompts the need to deepen the university’s sustainability and climate action commitments. Members of the SFU community, and particularly the student group SFU 350, are a critical part of advocating for action. SFU 350 presented proposed next steps to the SFU Board of Governors today.

“We recognize the current climate emergency and the obligation the university has to take meaningful action toward change,” says Jamie Stewart, chair, SFU board of governors. “SFU’s board of governors has requested a report on work happening across SFU at our next meeting, as well as a report on plans to engage the community to update the approach to the climate emergency. The Board has also requested regular transparent reporting toward targets under the UN Race 2 Zero Pledge. We have directed management to respond to the proposal of SFU 350 more quickly than the timeline requested by the student group.”

“SFU seeks to be a leader in climate action. Though much has been accomplished, there is much more that can be done within SFU’s footprint and impact, working together with students, faculty, staff and community,” says Joy Johnson, president and vice-chancellor. “The climate crisis is an intersectional issue, and meaningful action requires input and involvement from stakeholders. I want to thank SFU 350 for continuing to advocate for climate action and for starting this discussion on a way forward.”

SFU is developing a working group focused on joint skill building with students, staff, and faculty to address several targets on education as part of the SFU 2025 Sustainability Plan. SFU has a Faculty of Environment, a Sustainable Development Program, and a Sustainable Energy and Engineering Program. The university offers a total of 231 sustainability-related courses as well as the co-curricular Climate Action Student Collaborative program (SFUS) and the Semester in Dialogue program tackles topics such as climate action, climate justice, and decolonization.