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Climate Action Planning

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Climate Action Plan Update

Expected to be published in Summer 2025, Stanford’s Climate Action Plan will act as a comprehensive roadmap that outlines specific activities the university will undertake to reduce the impacts of climate change. The plan will foster a shared vision for the university’s greenhouse gas mitigation, and climate adaptation and resilience. 

The Climate Action Plan is being developed by subject matter experts across campus who are leading working groups to propose climate action strategies in the following content areas: building & grounds operations; degasification; design; construction; energy systems; food systems; land use & planning; leases; purchasing; refrigerants; reporting; fleet; travel; transportation; waste; and water systems. The overall development and coordination of Stanford’s Climate Action Plan is facilitated by the Office of Sustainability in the Land, Buildings, and Real Estate department.


Vision

The Climate Action Plan Working Groups are utilizing a set of perspectives to shape each content section.  These perspectives include: 

Climate Justice 

Recognizing the disproportionate impact of climate change on historically marginalized communities, addressing climate impacts at Stanford requires fostering equitable outcomes and amplifying diverse voices within and around the Stanford community. The Climate Action Plan collaborates with Stanford’s Environmental Justice Working Group to enhance the climate justice perspective throughout the planning process.

Academic Integration

Stanford faculty and students are actively engaged throughout the climate action planning process to ensure the university taps into its vast academic resources and research capabilities. The Office of Sustainability partners with the Doerr School of Sustainability to facilitate this planning lens. 

As one of the pioneering undergraduate schools dedicated to sustainability education nationwide, the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability offers an extensive array of over 1,000 courses with sustainability focus across various programs. Additionally, it hosts the Stanford Sustainability Accelerator, which fosters the development and launch of innovative solutions to global sustainability challenges. 

Through the Living Lab Fellowship Program for Sustainability, students have the opportunity to collaborate with various schools, departments, and facilities across campus to advance Stanford’s operational sustainability and climate action objectives. 

Governance

Effective governance is necessary to implement the actions identified through the planning process. The following committees have been established to support the development and implementation of the Climate Action Plan. 

Climate Action Plan Working Groups

The Climate Action Plan working groups develop, maintain, and provide recommendations for the content of the Climate Action Plan. Working groups are led by subject matter experts across campus in various content areas. Upon approval, working groups will implement topic- specific climate action strategies, monitor and report on progress and maintain accountability for mitigation, adaptation, resilience and climate justice in their respective topic area. 

Emissions Management Group 

The Emissions Management Group is responsible for voluntary and compliance reporting. They ensure appropriate science-backed methodologies and emissions factors are used for emissions accounting in alignment with the requirements and boundaries in the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, The Climate Registry, and legislation and mandates passed by the State of California and EPA. 

Climate Action Advisory Committee

The Climate Action Advisory Committee assesses recommendations and develops proposals to the Executive Governance Group and senior leadership. The Advisory Committee is composed of appointed staff and faculty and students nominated by the Stanford community.  

Climate Action Executive Governance Group 

The Executive Governance Group provides guiding principles, sets priorities, and assesses proposals from the Advisory Committee. The Executive Governance Group reviews reports on climate action progress annually.


Climate Action History

Stanford released its first Climate Action Plan in 2008, and an update to it in 2015. Both plans focused primarily on Stanford’s energy system. Here, you can view Stanford’s 2015 Climate and Energy Action Plan, addressing its Scope 1 and 2 emissions levels and reduction targets. 

Thanks to the 2015 implementation of Stanford Energy System Innovations (SESI), one of the most efficient district energy systems in the world; and the renewable electricity program completed in 2022, Stanford has reached a 78% reduction in its Scope 1 and 2 emissions from peak emissions in 2011.  

In 2018 the Board of Trustees committed to: “accelerating the university’s transition, including its operations and endowment, to at least net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.” Globally, emissions are managed under three categories. Scope 1 emissions are directly controlled by Stanford — examples include its use of natural gas, fuel used for its vehicle fleet and refrigerants. Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions associated with energy use — the primary example is electricity purchases. Scope 3 emissions are also indirect emissions, created by Stanford’s value chain — examples include investments, purchasing, travel, construction, leases and waste. Progress towards meeting net-zero is tracked in Stanford’s annual emissions inventory, recognizing that an emissions inventory is the first step in developing an effective energy and climate plan.