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Petition for Ending Fossil Fuel Use at UC Davis

To: Chancellor Gary May, Provost Mary Croughan, Vice Chancellor Kelly Ratliff, and Academic Senate Chair Richard Tucker, UC Davis Health CEO David Lubarsky

Global heating is causing disasters such as wildfires, extreme rainfall, extreme heat, hurricanes, drought, flooding, sea level rise, damaged ecosystems, species extinction, and changed disease vectors. The 6th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that: “Recent changes in the climate are widespread, rapid, intensifying, and unprecedented in thousands of years.” Such impacts harm all of us, in particular underserved communities here in California and across the world. Global heating jeopardizes the university’s core missions of education, research, and service to local and global communities, and should be a cause for rapid action.

Therefore, we call on the Chancellor and other UC Davis leaders to commit to ending the use of fossil fuels as a source of energy for UCD campuses by 2030. To do this, we ask the university to develop an electrification plan for its campuses*, establish a timetable for this change, and adopt specific policies by the end of 2022 to realize the transition. Essential elements for this transition include procuring additional renewable sources for secure campus energy; implementing grid-level energy storage to solve the intermittency problem; prioritizing equitable treatment of, and wage & pension support for impacted workers and community members; and fostering positive environmental outcomes for ecosystems.

Our campus is to be commended for beginning the Big Shift (changing steam pipes to hot water to support eventual electrification of heating and cooling) and purchasing more renewable electricity. But UC Davis still produces over 150,000 metric tons of CO2 annually on-campus, primarily from burning natural gas for heating and cooling, a level that has not changed significantly since 2008. Buying carbon offsets as planned after 2025 will not reduce emissions and raises questions about whether such offsets are 1) permanent, 2) verifiable, and 3) additive (i.e., would not have occurred otherwise)**.

We realize that moving beyond fossil fuels to sustain our critical teaching and research missions is going to require massive commitment. However, as a top undergraduate and research campus, part of a renowned university system that is unique in the world, we have an obligation to live up to our sustainability aspirations. If we cannot do this, who will?

UCD and other institutions need to take leadership to end greenhouse gas emissions if we want to have a fighting chance to limit global warming to 2.0 degrees Celsius. This is a political and leadership challenge, not a technical challenge. We call upon UC Davis to take a stand for rapid, meaningful climate action by ending its fossil fuel use.

* UC San Diego has already allocated $250,000 to create such plans:
** See

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