UC's Carbon Neutrality Initiative

UC's Carbon Neutrality Initiative

UC’s Carbon Neutrality Initiative (CNI) commits all ten University of California campuses to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) to their 1990 levels by 2020, and to net zero by 2025 for emissions from our buildings, electricity purchases, and vehicle fleet. UC also has pledged net zero emissions to include commuting and business air travel emissions by 2050.

To date, the UC system has significantly reduced its GHG emissions through a range of sustainability practices discussed in this report, including energy efficiency measures, renewable energy production and procurement, green buildings, biomethane procurement, and behavior change programs. For example, through UC's award-winning energy efficiency partnership with the state's energy utility companies starting in 2004, UC has implemented over 1,000 energy efficiency projects saving more than $255 million. UC is also the 5th largest producer of renewable energy in the country, and has committed to using 100% clean electricity by 2025.

The California Institute for Energy and Environment (CIEE) and the CITRIS Sustainable Infrastructures Initiative have worked to support UC's CNI since the CNI's inception. Carl Blumstein, CIEE's Director, serves on UC's Global Climate Leadership Council, which guides the CNI. CIEE research fellow, Barbara Haya, is leading the effort to develop CNI's offset program. Karl Brown, CIEE's former Deputy Director, played leadership and contributing roles in analyzing strategies for achieving the CNI goals.

Why Offsets?

Since 2009, UC has reduced its emissions by 15% while student enrollment, research funding, and the medical centers grew considerably. As campuses continue to aggressively reduce their emissions, they expect to be able to eliminate 40-60% of current emissions by 2025. After implementing all cost-effective emissions reductions strategies that won't have a significantly adverse impact on campus budgets, that will still leave about 40-60% of current emissions, mostly from natural gas used in on-campus cogeneration plants or for heating, which will have to be covered by carbon offsets.

This graph summarizes UC's campuses' climate action plans going forward: