University of British Columbia President Santa J. Ono and University of California President Janet Napolitano today announced a transition in leadership of the University Climate Change Coalition (UC3) a network of 22 leading North American research universities working together to accelerate local and regional climate action.
Effective June 30, Ono will assume the role of UC3 leadership lead from Napolitano as she prepares to step down from the presidency of the University of California later this summer. Napolitano spearheaded the formation and launch of the coalition of UC3 in February 2018, which is now a signature program of Second Nature.
“I am thrilled to take on this expanded role within the UC3 coalition,” said Ono. “For the past two years, I’ve been proud to work with this outstanding collective of research universities to leverage our expertise, share ideas and develop new climate solutions. This is a critical moment for the future of our planet, and we are proud of our universities’ contributions to a growing global movement to curb emissions and promote sustainability.”
As UC3 lead, Ono will coordinate the participation of university presidents and chancellors in the coalition, guide the development and execution of strategic projects and continue to build the coalition’s robust network of external partnerships with government, business and community leaders.
“President Ono and the University of British Columbia have been leaders within UC3 since its formation, so this is a natural transition that will build on the strong foundation we’ve established,” said Napolitano. “I am confident that President Ono’s leadership will take the coalition to new heights as research universities continue to pursue urgent climate research and action that will help secure a sustainable future for our communities.”
This leadership transition comes at an important moment for the coalition, which recently launched its 2020-2025 Strategic Plan. Over the past two years, the coalition has convened thousands of university leaders, elected officials, policymakers, philanthropists and advocates in some two dozen community forums across the U.S., Mexico and Canada to discuss on-the-ground climate solutions.
UBC is a recognized leader in sustainability and climate action. The university was recognized in the 2019 Times Higher Education University Impact Rating as the No. 1 ranked university for taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
UBC’s Climate Action Plan, developed in 2010, set some of the most aggressive greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets for a post-secondary institution in North America. UBC has invested in a range of green energy initiatives including a biomass facility that reduces reliance on natural gas, a solar-powered parkade, and net zero-energy faculty and staff housing. Despite an increase in student population and building growth, UBC has achieved a 34 per cent reduction in GHG emissions since 2007. Today, UBC is on-track to reduce GHG emissions by 67 per cent in 2020, and by 100 per cent in 2050.
In December 2019, the university joined communities and organizations around the world in declaring a climate emergency and full divestment of its investments from the fossil fuel industry. In April, the board of governors passed a motion that committed UBC to reaffirming its approach to divestment, aiming to reduce climate change-related financial risk in its endowment through the continued application of environmental, social and governance investment practices, signing on to the UN Principles of Responsible Investing, and the reduction of carbon emissions and stranded fossil fuel assets.
Earlier this month, UBC also joined 16 leading Canadian universities to launch Investing to Address Climate Change: A Charter for Canadian Universities, signalling a national commitment to tackle climate change through responsible investment practices. More information on UBC’s commitment to sustainability and climate action is available here.
UC has also been a leader in climate change research and institutional sustainability for decades. Through the university’s Carbon Neutrality Initiative, launched by Napolitano in 2013, the university is working toward achieving systemwide carbon neutrality in its operations by 2025. In May, UC’s Office of the Chief Investment Officer announced that its investment portfolios are fossil free after the sale of more than $1 billion in assets.
“On behalf of the entire Second Nature team, thank you to President Napolitano for your leadership in 2018 to initiate the creation of UC3 and your continued leadership thereafter,” said Tim Carter, president of Second Nature. “In just two short years, UC3 has accomplished much under your guidance and we look forward to accelerating that progress under the leadership of President Ono.”
More information about the UC3 coalition, its members, and its current projects is available on the UC3 page on the Second Nature website.