Concordia sets new emissions targets — and supports the Montreal Climate Partnership
In the spirit of the commitments made by different state and non-state actors during COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, I’m very pleased to announce the next important actions that Concordia is taking in our commitment, as an organization, to tackle climate change.
Specifically, we will aim to reduce our on-site greenhouse-gas emissions (GHG) by 55 per cent by 2030 against the baseline rate set in 2014-15. This is a more ambitious target than our previous trajectory — a 50 per cent reduction by 2055. Further, our Climate Action Plan includes a goal to reach carbon neutrality across all our operations by 2040. This target is consistent with the research of many climate experts, including our own, who fear that the more commonly adopted deadline of 2050 will be too late.
New GHG targets
Our work to achieve these goals stems directly from the actions taken across our community and from the leadership of students, faculty and staff who are our key sustainability champions.
A year ago, we launched Concordia’s Sustainability Action Plan, an outgrowth of the sustainability policy we adopted in 2016. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve persevered and continue to execute meaningful actions. We’ve managed not only to improve Concordia’s environmental performance, but we’re also taking a leadership role in our city and in the university community by partnering in broader networks such as the Montreal Climate Partnership and by developing purposeful collaborations that accentuate our impact.
The goals we are announcing today are aggressive for an organization of our size and complexity. This is why we have also set interim targets in 2025 and 2030 to ensure we’re on track to deliver on our commitments.
These ambitious new targets are consistent with other bold moves we’ve taken that are helping identify Concordia as a leader in sustainability generally and in tackling climate change in particular. They include:
- Issuing a sustainable bond to fund our $63-million Applied Science Hub, which recently received LEED Gold certification
- Converting the Concordia University Foundation portfolio to 100 per cent sustainable investments by 2025
- Launching a sustainable investment practicum for business students with Manulife
- Joining the global movement to advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Many of these actions are firsts in Canada and North America. Because of them and other measures our community has taken, the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings classes Concordia in the top 20 universities in the world for our teaching, research, outreach and stewardship to address the UN SDGs on climate change and sustainable cities.
Expanding engagement with the Montreal Climate Partnership
To bring humanity’s environmental impact down to sustainable levels, everyone must do their part. So, to accelerate broad adoption, we’re also using Concordia’s leadership position to encourage other organizations to get involved through the Great Expectations campaign, whose engagement platform launches today.
Led by the Montreal Climate Partnership, on whose steering committee I have the privilege to sit, the campaign aims to accelerate Montreal's climate transition by having member organizations like ours encourage our city’s business, institutional and philanthropic communities to make public commitments to reduce their GHG emissions. Commitments can be taken online in three simple steps, and the proposed actions are relevant and realistic both for organizations like Concordia that are already engaged in their transition and for those looking for a place to begin.
Know your carbon footprint
Although larger organizations may have greater potential to reduce environmental impact, as individuals we all have a role to play. As with so many things, the first step is self-education. Try this tool, developed by Concordia’s own Damon Matthews’s Climate Lab, to measure your carbon footprint, and circulate the link to encourage others in your network to do the same.
I know from speaking to so many of you that our institutional leadership on sustainability is a great point of pride for Concordia. Success requires broad participation — not just in the efforts we make, but in the ideas we share. As the leader of a learning organization, I’m always open to your input on how we can make progress, together, on humanity’s most enduring challenge.
President and Vice-Chancellor