Wednesday February 10, 2010
Flanked by students from the environmental-activist group, Queen's Backing Action on Climate Change (QBACC), Principal Daniel Woolf signed a made-in-Canada sustainability pledge on Tuesday.
The University and College Presidents' Climate Change Statement of Action for Canada was drafted by six British Columbia universities and has been endorsed by the heads of 23 Canadian institutions. Signatories commit to setting reduction targets, conducting a greenhouse gas inventory, developing an institutional climate action plan and working cooperatively with governments, the business community and other institutions to help reduce global climate change.
Last November, Principal Woolf joined the heads of 19 other Ontario universities and two colleges in signing a provincial sustainability pledge.
At Tuesday's signing, the Principal and Associate Vice-Principal (Facilities) Ann Browne made clear that such actions, while meaningful, are only the first steps in what must be a multi-step, long-term approach to developing an aggressive yet achievable position to advance sustainability measures at Queen's.
"As we continue to move forward, we as a community need to innovate and work even harder to improve how we do things on campus and in our own lives," said Principal Woolf. "As an institution, we must - and we will - work together to be leaders in creating a greener world for ourselves and for future generations."
Among the efforts already under way is the creation last fall of Queen's Sustainability Advisory Committee (QSAC), which brings together the university's leading researchers in the areas of environment and sustainability, with student representatives and members of the Sustainability Office and Physical Plant team.
A draft Sustainability Strategic Framework, to be released shortly, will establish the university's core values in this area and outline how the entire Queen's community can participate in reducing its environmental footprint. The framework will use results from a commissioned report on Queen's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to establish university GHG baseline measures and achievable targets for the coming years.
"We're very excited that the Principal has signed the Canadian statement and Queen's is now going beyond the rhetoric on this issue," said QBACC co-director Daniel Myran, ArtSci '10. Calling sustainability "the greatest challenge our generation has faced," he noted that Canada is today seen as one of the worst offenders in this area.
"That needs to change," said Mr. Myran. "While Canada as a whole may not be on board yet, some of the best institutions are. We want Queen's to be among the leaders."