Climate Action

Learning from our own Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientists — some of the first to note that human activities are changing our global climate and impacting our lives — UC San Diego is committed to reaching carbon neutrality by 2025 and our campus is a signatory to Second Nature's Carbon Commitment.

In 2008, UC San Diego developed its first Climate Action Plan (PDF). Key operations staff are closely collaborating with students, faculty and administrators to update our plan in coordination with the campus' updated Long Range Development Plan. This update also factors in the City of San Diego's Climate Action Plan and California's Climate Strategy.

In March 2016, the campus held a carbon neutrality planning charrette and a campus-wide IdeaWave campaign in May 2016 to gather feedback on ways the university can continue to lower greenhouse gas emissions in cost-effective ways that support our student-centered, research-focused, service-oriented mission.

Our climate action plan update team includes representatives from:


Greenhouse Gas Emissions

  • Reduce to 1990 levels by 2020
  • Achieve carbon neutrality in Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2025 and in Scope 1, 2 and 3 by 2050
  • Reduce campus fleet emissions by at least 4.7% per year, based on the previous year’s emissions, until 2020 and by at least 4% per year from 2021-2050


  • Improve building energy and water efficiency
  • Construct new buildings to meet or exceed LEED Gold standards and achieve LEED Silver where LEED Gold is not possible
  • Continue to certify existing buildings under the LEED-EB program
  • Use green cleaning products
  • Reduce water usage by 4% per year for the next 5 years
  • Become a zero-waste campus by 2020


  • Achieve 50% post-consumer waste (PCW) recycled content in all paper purchases by 2012
  • Reduce per capita paper use from 1,568 to 1,066 sheets per person per year by 2012, an 8% decrease
  • Reduce the total amount of printers, copiers, and other applicable electronic equipment purchased
  • Improve the energy efficiency of all office electronic equipment, using the guidelines from the Climate Savers program
  • Partner with green vendors
  • For details, see Environmentally Friendly Buying.


  • Commuting: At a minimum, reduce:
    • GHG emissions from commuting by 2% per year, based on the previous year’s emissions, from 2009 to 2050
    • the percentage of commuters using single-occupancy vehicles from 49% to 39% by 2018
  • Air travel: At a minimum, reduce per-capita emissions by:
    • 7% each year from 2011-2020, based on the previous year’s emissions
    • 5% each year from 2021-2050, based on the previous year’s emissions


  • Continue to reduce overall water use by 4% per year while increasing recycled water use wherever possible
  • Sub-meter 100% of buildings and landscaping water