Pathways to Fossil Free UC Task Force

Background and Charge

Accelerating UC efforts to decarbonize campus energy infrastructure is the largest remaining challenge to achieving the goals of the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative and maintaining UC’s status as a leader in climate action. Decarbonization will be a campus-specific, technically challenging, and capital-intensive challenge. The estimated cost per campus is at least $200-$500 million.

President Drake convened a task force under the UC Global Climate Leadership Council to address the campus decarbonization challenge and respond to the Academic Senate Memorial to the Regents on Reducing Fossil Fuel Combustion. The task force includes relevant expertise, stakeholders, and decision-makers and convenes subcommittees as required to engage subject matter experts and stakeholders. Electrifying the campuses is the primary focus of the task force, but other pathways are also being considered and evaluated.

Goals

  1. Develop recommendations for President Drake and the Chancellors on necessary steps and a timeline to eliminate use of fossil fuels in each location’s energy systems and strengthen UC’s current climate action policy goals. The recommendations should include research, education, cost, change management, and the involvement of students, staff and the wider UC community into its considerations.
  2. Guide the scope, delivery, aggregation, and final packaging to the President and Chancellors of the State-funded decarbonization studies for each location.
  3. Assure fossil free recommendations include ways to overcome key structural, technical, resilience, organizational, financial, operational, land use, cultural, and legal barriers.
  4. Assure that climate justice and equity are centered in the decarbonization studies and overall fossil free pathways for each location.
  5. Develop and implement a communications and engagement strategy that frames the fossil free pathways effort in a way that is legible and accessible to the entire UC community.

Activity and Timeline

President Drake appointed members to the Pathways to a Fossil Free UC Task Force in October 2022. The task force meets remotely every month, and in-person twice a year. In addition to regular meetings, the task force convenes subcommittees to focus on the following topics related to fossil free planning:

  • State-funded decarbonization studies’ scope and criteria
  • Communications and engagement
  • Equity and climate justice
  • Campuses as living laboratories for climate solutions
  • Energy reliability and resilience
  • Hospitals and health systems
  • Funding and legislative support

The task force will deliver draft recommendations to the Regents, President, Chancellors, and Global Climate Leadership Council in fall 2024.