Climate change is perhaps the biggest threat facing our planet today, setting challenges that affect every corner of the globe and demand action from everyone on it, including universities. Ontario’s universities recognize that they must be active partners in the fight against climate change, in order to ensure all Ontarians benefit from a sustainable and prosperous future.
- Protecting our environment and building a sustainable future requires a commitment from all industry sectors.
- It requires a commitment to clean energy and energy efficiency. According to recent studies, “less than 40 per cent of primary energy production typically ends up in the form of useful energy.”
- Ensuring buildings new and old are up to the highest environmental standards is also central to reducing emissions. Two-thirds of greenhouse gas reductions will come from retrofits to existing building stock, according to a recent study.
- Ontario’s universities are actively engaged in enhancing sustainability. A survey of 17 campuses found that 12 generate on-site renewable energy and all surveyed universities have buildings built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Standards.
- Technology is also essential to facing climate change. University research is helping create smart technologies that reduce energy use, while partnerships with industries are resulting in sustainable new ways of working that help create a green economy.
- Building a sustainable province also requires changes to personal behaviour. On our campuses, it is often our students who guide the way. Further research and social innovation can develop new approaches to help Ontarians build the path to sustainability.
- By partnering across sectors to perform this wide range of work, Ontario can build a future that’s both sustainable and prosperous. As the Federation of Canadian Municipalities has argued, the benefits of a green economy “would be spread across Canada, in both large and small communities, rather than being isolated in one or a few pockets.”