Climate Action

Learning from our own Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientists -- some of the first to alert the world that human activities are changing our global climate and impacting our lives -- we were the first California university to join the California Climate Action Registry, a voluntary greenhouse gas (GHG) registry, and are committed to reaching carbon neutrality. In 2008, we developed our first Climate Action Plan (PDF), which we are now updating in coordination with the university's update to its long range development plan and taking into account the City of San Diego's climate action plan and the State of California's climate goals and policies.

A early signatory to Second Nature's Carbon Commitment, our campus climate action plan is being updated by key operations staff with close collaboration and advising from students, faculty and administrators. We held a carbon neutrality planning charrette in March 2016 and a campus-wide IdeaWave campaign in May 2016 to gather input and ideas on ways the university can continue to lower greenhouse gas emissions in cost-effective ways that support our student-centered, research-focused, service-oriented mission. Our climate action plan update team includes representatives from:

  • Sustainability
  • Facilities Management
  • Facilities Design & Construction
  • Environmental Health & Safety
  • Integrated Procure-to-Pay Solutions
  • Campus and Community Planning
  • Strategic Energy Initiatives
  • Advisory Committee on Sustainability

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

UC San Diego plans to reduce its GHG emissions to:

  • 1990 levels by 2020
  • Carbon neutrality in Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2025 and in all scopes (Scope 1, 2 and 3) by 2050
  • Reduce campus fleet emissions by at least 4.7% per year, based on the previous year’s emissions, until 2020 and by at least 4% per year from 2021-2050


  • Improve building energy and water efficiency
  • Construct new buildings to meet or exceed LEED Gold standards and achieve LEED Silver where LEED Gold is not possible
  • Continue to certify existing buildings under the LEED-EB program
  • Use green cleaning products
  • Reduce water usage by 4% per year for the next 5 years
  • Become a zero-waste campus by 2020


  • Achieve 50% post-consumer waste (PCW) recycled content in all paper purchases by 2012
  • Reduce per capita paper use from 1,568 to 1,066 sheets per person per year by 2012, an 8% decrease
  • Reduce the total amount of printers, copiers, and other applicable electronic equipment purchased
  • Improve the energy efficiency of all office electronic equipment, using the guidelines from the Climate Savers program
  • Partner with green vendors

For details, see Environmentally Friendly Buying.


Air Travel

At a minimum, reduce per-capita emissions from air travel by:

  • 11% reduction each year from 2009-2010, based on the previous year’s emissions
  • 7% reduction each year from 2011-2020, based on the previous year’s emissions
  • 5% reduction each year from 2021-2050, based on the previous year’s emissions


  • At a minimum, reduce GHG emissions from commuting by 2% per year, based on the previous year’s emissions, from 2009 to 2050
  • At a minimum, reduce the percentage of commuters using single-occupancy vehicles from 49% to 39% by 2018


  • Continue to reduce overall water use by 4% per year while increasing us of recycled water, if possible
  • Sub-meter 100% of water for buildings and landscaping

Work Groups