How did we get here? From September 2016 to May 2017, the McGill Office of Sustainability (MOOS) led a consultation process that engaged over 500 McGill community members at over 20 events. These consultations reflected on past achievements and lessons learned, evaluated our most pressing challenges, and laid out the most effective means to create change. This process shaped the content of the Climate & Sustainability Action Plan, including the 22 short-term actions aligned with two long-term targets. Below is an overview of the consultation events organized by MOOS.
Outdoor Consultations and Web Submissions
In October 2016, the MOOS team spent a day outside on McGill’s downtown campus talking to students, faculty members, and staff, in order to reach those who may not otherwise be engaged with sustainability programs. Those passing by the outdoor installation were asked to list some of the initiatives they would value seeing on campus. The Vision 2020 webpage was also used as a venue for community members to submit ideas and concerns electronically. Over 50 submissions were received over the course of the year.
Action Team Meetings
Students, faculty members, and staff who were strongly interested, involved or implicated in one of the five thematic categories laid out in Vision 2020 (Research, Education, Connectivity, Operations, and Governance and Administration) formed the basis of our five Action Teams. These teams met three times during the 2016-2017 academic year. They began with broad brainstorming around sustainability and climate action ideas, and concluded with the evaluation and selection of four to five actions in each category.
Community Conversations on Carbon Neutrality
Partway through our consultations, the concept of carbon neutrality emerged as a central theme of many of our Action Team meetings and stakeholder discussions. In order to raise awareness about the topic of carbon neutrality and gather feedback from the broader McGill community, the MOOS hosted three Community Conversations on Carbon Neutrality (March 28th - 30th). The first event was held at Macdonald campus and the latter two were held downtown. In total, 43 staff, students, and faculty members attended to share their opinions and ideas surrounding McGill’s ability to achieve carbon neutrality. The discussions shed light on the level of interest in and support of carbon neutrality within the community, the level of dependence on carbon offset mechanisms, and the carbon neutral target date.
MOOS worked with several units and groups across our campuses in order to create a plan that was reflective of the needs and desires of the university as a whole. These partnerships enabled stakeholders to dig deeper into the roots of sustainability issues, discuss viable solutions, and distribute the ownership of priority actions.
Task Force of Academic Experts on Carbon Neutrality
The Task Force consisted of six McGill professors from the Departments of Natural Resource Sciences, Biology, Economics, Geography, Biology, and the Faculty of Management. The group discussed the scientific and ethical case for carbon neutrality, as well as different scenarios under which McGill could transition to net zero emissions.
Advisory Council on Sustainability
Created in 2016, the Advisory Council on Sustainability (a body that provides advice on McGill’s sustainability priorities) regularly discussed the Climate & Sustainability Action Plan. The Council, which is chaired by the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic), and by the Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance), consists of roughly 20 members, including the Director of the Office of Sustainability, two senior administrators, four senior academic leaders, one Indigenous representative, three students, and six external members with expertise in sustainability governance and policies.