Let's Get Neutral

Today was arguably one of the coldest days that most of us have ever experienced. The downside (putting aside the fact that I couldn't feel my fingers, legs, toes, and all other parts of my body while biking to work today) is that the University has been curtailed!

What does that mean? Well don't feel bad if you don't know... I mean seriously, there is no reason why you should know. What it means is that the University has to burn oil instead of natural gas. Yes, dirty, ugly, oil. Unfortunately this is a fact of life because of the weather. Once temperatures get this cold the University has to stop burning natural gas so that there is enough natural gas for residential houses. Oh well.

This got me thinking though. I wanted to know how much CO2 was being generated by this oil that we had to burn. I never actually found out. But it did find out something else. It turns out that the University of Ottawa has achieved its Kyoto target. Actually I think I may have already blogged about that. But than I figured out that the University also achieved its Copenhagen target (17% reduction in 2005 numbers by 2020).

Yep, we actually already achieved it before it was announced. I don't know if this is a reflection on how weak the Copenhagen goals are but I do know that we need a new target.

You may be aware of something called the Vision 2020 process that the University has undertaken. This process, meant to help determine our trajectory for the next decade, included a section about environmental sustainability. Guess what; one of our goals was to become a carbon neutral campus.

I don't know if we are going to be carbon neutral by 2020 but we have set a goal of reducing our GHG emissions by double the Copenhagen targets (34% by 2020). Hopefully along the way we can maybe do even better and make it all the way to zero.