UCLA has become one of the first universities in the country to establish a program to reduce the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from university business-related air travel by assessing a carbon mitigation fee for these flights.
The pilot program will run from January 2018 through December 2020, with a $9 fee to be applied to each domestic round-trip and a $25 fee to be applied to each international round-trip.
“As greenhouse gas emissions resulting from air travel continue to increase at UCLA, we must strengthen our commitment to building a healthy and sustainable campus,” said Renée Fortier, executive director of UCLA Events and Transportation. “The Air Travel Mitigation Fund will do just that. It is a comprehensive effort to decrease the university’s overall carbon footprint while continuing to support the campus community. Through this pilot program, we hope to continue to build on decades of work and move UCLA closer to UC President Janet Napolitano’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2025.”
The mitigation fees will be charged for all university business air travel with the exception of travel that is paid through a grant, due to grant funding restrictions. However, travelers using grant resources who wish to voluntarily mitigate their air travel impacts will have the option to make the payment from an allowable fund source.
Air travel mitigation fees will be collected and placed into a fund, which will then be made available annually to the campus through a competitive process to finance university projects that make a measurable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. A description of the project funding parameters can be found on the fund’s web page within the UCLA Sustainability website. Information about UCLA’s efforts to reduce emissions can also be found on that site.
“We are dedicated to creating a culture at the university where the entire UCLA community is engaged and committed to sustainable practices,” said Nurit Katz, chief sustainability officer at UCLA. “We are excited to explore the various campus initiatives and applications that will result from program funds. The goal of the Air Travel Mitigation Fund is to enable and empower the campus community to take an active role in making UCLA a leader in sustainability.”
Air travel emissions account for approximately five percent of UCLA’s greenhouse gas emissions, and have continued to grow during the last several years. In 2016, UCLA business-related air travel reached almost 90 million miles flown. Since 2007, the University of California has been a signatory to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which specifies that each institution decrease its emissions. The University of California Sustainable Practices Policy also has a sustainable transportation component which includes a guideline regarding business-related air travel greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to a comprehensive carbon neutrality commitment.