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Air and Climate

UC Commitment

With nearly a decade of leadership in sustainability, in 2013, UC was the first major university to announce its commitment to emitting net zero greenhouse gases from its buildings and vehicle fleet by 2025 with its the Carbon Neutrality Initiative.

Goals

  • Reduce greenhouse gases to 1990 levels
  • Achieve carbon neutrality for scopes 1 and 2 sources by 2025
  • Achieve carbon neutrality for scope 3 sources by 2050

Highlights

  • The State of California allocated $35 million for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to put towards designing and building a new coastal research vessel with a first-of-its-kind hydrogen propulsion system. The new vessel will be dedicated to Californian research missions and will allow scientists to study and track a range of environmental concerns, including the health of marine fisheries, harmful algal blooms, severe El Niño storms, atmospheric rivers, sea-level rise, ocean acidification and oxygen depletion zones. The design of this new ship will feature a hybrid propulsion system that integrates hydrogen fuel cells with a conventional diesel-electric power plant for zero-emission operations.
  • UC San Diego launched a new website in April highlighting the breadth of interdisciplinary climate change research on campus.
  • The California Energy Commission transferred ownership of 10 used Nissan Leaf vehicles to Transportation Services for research purposes. In collaboration with UC San Diego’s Center for Global Justice and the School of Global Policy and Strategy, Resource Management and Planning will make vehicles available for short-term rides to the approximately 2,000 UC San Diego employees who reside in underserved communities without access to home charging. RMP has ensured affordable and equitable access to ample workplace charging with the installation of over 280 Level II and four DC Fast Chargers throughout campus, coupled with consumer education and full utilization of available income-based ownership incentives that will eliminate barriers facing underserved populations.
  • UC San Diego and UC San Diego Health co-hosted the UC San Diego Climate Resiliency Workshop that kicked off integrated climate resiliency planning into climate action planning.

Legacy of Climate Leadership

  • 1961: Charles Keeling of Scripps Institution of Oceanography developed the Keeling Curve.
  • 2007: UC San Diego signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. Second Nature's Carbon Commitment
  • 2008: UC San Diego developed its first Climate Action Plan.
  • 2013: University of California President launched the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative.
  • 2019: UC San Diego updated its Climate Action Plan.

UC Carbon Neutrality Dashboard

Launched in June 2021, the dashboard is designed to illustrate UC’s emission reduction strategies in the past, present and future—from 2009 through 2025—in an accessible and engaging format. Staff from UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara created Carbon Neutrality Dashboard with support from colleagues systemwide and funding from the UC Office of the President. Here’s how to navigate the dashboard:

  • Homepage/Our Journey tab: Get an overview of the CNI, watch an animated video of UC emissions over time and see UC’s overall journey to carbon neutrality.
  • Emissions Map tab: Explore emissions by location, including filters to account for square footage, campus population and medical centers.
  • Solutions tab: Explore by campus to see each location’s breakdown of carbon reduction strategies. Or, explore by stories to read case studies of how each strategy has been implemented locally.

Campus Actions

UC San Diego continues to be a leader in climate change research and education, while also aggressively pursuing actions to reduce the campus’ environmental footprint, including:

Transportation, Fleet, Commuting

Student Engagement

The UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative Fellowship Program funds student-generated projects that support the UC system’s goal to produce zero-net greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. UC San Diego’s fellows

The Sustainability Ambassadors Program aims to educate and engage students through peer education and programming to raise awareness of UC San Diego’s efforts to reach carbon neutrality and encourage students to implement sustainable living methods.

Faculty Engagement and Research

UC San Diego is a leader in academic and research programs focused on providing climate change education and solutions to meet the growing challenge of supplying clean energy for the future. Researchers from the Center for Energy Research are performing groundbreaking research, such as:

Faculty are also engaged in community projects like inter-disciplinary Deep De-Carbonization Initiative, which includes both technical and social science experts from across the campus.

Future Plans

Existing and planned programs aim to help the campus meet its carbon emission reduction goals, including:

  • Purchases of bio-methane gas to offset natural gas use
  • Installation of additional electric vehicle charging systems for fleet and public use
  • Continuation of attractively priced electric vehicle dealer leasing and purchasing programs for UC San Diego faculty, staff, students and alumni
  • Procurement of new alternative fuel shuttles and other vehicles to replace aging fleet equipment

Resources