Students offer solutions to reduce York’s carbon emissions

Photo by Singkham from Pexels

York Provostial Fellow Burkard Eberlein invited students in his MGMT 4300 course, Corporate Social Responsibility in a Global Context, to participate in a case competition to advance climate action at the University.

Eighty-five students responded to the Global Climate Challenge – Location Action: Reducing York’s Carbon Emissions by pitching recommendations for action in three categories: sustainable procurement; transportation/commuting; and food.

Teams participating in the challenge were given seven minutes to pitch creative and practical recommendations to a panel of York administrators, sustainability leaders and business experts.

Burkard Eberlein
Burkard Eberlein

Students offered ideas around sustainable procurement by suggesting the certification of suppliers in partnership with sustainability assessment providers, training of staff and students towards life cycle thinking in purchase decisions, giving more weight to environmental sustainability in best-value procurement, and building leading procurement standards collaboratively with other universities.

On the topic of commuting, students recommended enhancing the use of public transit by way of universal transit passes for students, and suggested parking discounts for electric vehicle use and carpooling, the electrification of buses and engaging students in carbon-friendly commuting through gamification/apps.

Solutions around food sustainability included sourcing food from local farms, promoting plant-based food options, encouraging bring-your-own container programs and growing food on campus through vertical farming – all initiatives that make food procurement and consumption on campus less carbon-intensive.

More generally, many teams advocated for better disclosure of information on York’s carbon emissions and better communication of York’s many sustainability initiatives.

Eberlein, a professor of sustainability and public policy at the Schulich School of Business, announced the winners from each category on Dec. 2, with each winning team earning a $700 prize.

“It is exciting to see in all the student pitches the great passion for advancing climate action and making their York community more sustainable. At many leading universities, new, creative sustainability programs originate in student initiatives. And the same – students as agents of change – happens at York. I was very pleased to leverage my provostial fellowship support for this ‘learning through action’ experience for my students,” said Eberlein.

MGMT 4300 Case Competition winners

The winners are:

Sustainable procurement: Team A #2 – Emily Bissoon, Wafa Chowdhury, Hamna Khan, Dhavani Kher, Katherine Liu, Caroline Maby and Marian Qasim.
Pitch: “Procure for the Planet” – a project that recommends methods to improve sustainable procurement by creating procurement partnerships, influencing consumer perceptions and behaviour towards sustainable purchasing, and building long-term procurement standards.

Transportation/commuting: Team A #1 – Shiva Bakshi, Pui Shan Chan, Clifford Sing Link Choo, Mohammed Dada, Xiaoyi Lin, Julian Elias Meier and Sil Verouden.
Pitch: “Reduce York’s Carbon Emissions – Transportation” – a project that proposes solutions for reducing carbon emissions with initiative such as creating incentives for public transportation, developing courses to teach fuel efficient driving and rolling out a carbon offset program.

Food: Team B #5 – Farhkeen Akhter, Martina Bestawros, Alexa Grant, Meeftahul Mohona, Lamia Sinthia and Grace Xia.
Pitch: “Climate Change Challenge: Food” – a project that proposes to address carbon emissions as a result of food consumption by considering more sustainable changes in food packaging and food options, and encouraging locally sourced food.

The case competition was organized as part of Eberlein’s provostial fellowship at York University examining “Advancing Carbon Neutrality at York: Reimagining Mobility” which targets York’s carbon emissions from commuting and travel, with a special focus on air travel related to studying, research or University business activities.

The project supports University Academic Plan priority “Living Well Together” and the UN Sustainable Development Goal 13, Climate Action.