15 Sep 2019

Victoria University aims to become lab for climate change action

11:52 am on 15 September 2019

From Monday, RNZ joins more than 240 media organisations from around the world in the Covering Climate Now (CCN) initiative by committing to heighten climate coverage in the week leading up to the UN Climate Action Summit on 23 September 2019.

Victoria University in Wellington has announced a plan to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2030.

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Victoria University wants to become a "living lab" for climate change action. Photo: Rafael Ben-Ari/Chameleons Eye/ 123rf

It is the first university in New Zealand to release a comprehensive plan aiming for zero net carbon dioxide emissions.

The plan includes a 20 percent reduction in gross greenhouse gas emissions, said vice-chancellor Grant Guilford.

"Despite increased student and staff numbers, we have made significant reductions to our carbon emissions in the past decade," he said.

"However, if the world is to deliver on the Paris Climate Agreement and avert the potentially catastrophic impacts of climate change, we need to be more ambitious."

The university wants to become a living lab for climate change action in Wellington.

"We hope to share our zero-carbon journey and help New Zealand achieve its zero carbon aspirations," Professor Guilford said.

The university plans to install onsite solar power generation, no longer use natural gas for heating, and bring in a levy for air travel. The levy will buy carbon offsets and fund carbon reduction initiatives from staff.

The university is looking for marginal land in the North Island to re-plant tōtara forests and establish a carbon sink. This will be used for research and teaching.

The university also wants to expand its tree planting activities in Wellington to help remove carbon from the atmosphere. It will involve students, staff and alumni in ecological restoration activities that will also provide research opportunities.

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