Climate Policy — Geography, Environment and Geomatics

1. Preamble
The Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics at the University of Ottawa conducts research into the physical processes of climate change as well as the natural and societal impacts and responses to it. We acknowledge that human behaviour is the root cause of present-day climate change, and we have developed this policy to be transparent about our own behaviour, and to work toward eliminating its contribution to climate change.

2. Aspiration
The Department aims to become carbon neutral. While the research and teaching we do requires traveling to work, field sites and conferences, lighting, heating and cooling our buildings, and powering our equipment, we aim to reduce and ethically offset the greenhouse gas emissions generated by these activities with the ultimate goal to achieve carbon neutrality.

3. Transparency
To assess our progress, we will conduct regular climate audits to track our progress toward reducing and offsetting our greenhouse gas emissions. While many activities contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, we will focus on the following important sources: Air travel, commuting, heating and cooling, electricity use, as well as our offset activities. We will make the results of our climate audits publicly available on our website, broken down into collective (e.g. heating and cooling), teaching (e.g., field courses) and individual (e.g. air travel) contributions. Individual contributions may be accompanied by statements explaining the necessity of the emissions (e.g. travel to remote field sites) and actions taken to reduce them.

4. Reductions
The department is committed to providing the tools for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, for example by developing teleconferencing infrastructure and by looking for energy savings in our offices, laboratories and classrooms. We will propose to the central university administration to make the Simard Building a pilot project on campus for smarter energy management (e.g., heating in the garage, cooling in offices) and work towards LEED-EBOM certification.

5. Influencing
We will work with the university community to make these policies widespread on campus and we will continue to include climate change awareness in our teaching and collaboration with students.  We will also involve students in research activities required to accomplish the goals of this policy.

Adopted by unanimous vote at the Departmental Assembly on January 16, 2020

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