In the late nineteenth century early indications of a climate change were present in the environment. It was not until the end of the 50’s during the post-war period, that some countries and international organizations started to think about causes and effects of climate change. The first conference about world’s climate was held in Geneva, Switzerland on February 1979 where the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) gathered specialists on environmental matters who expressed their concerns about weather conditions and global warming due to anthropogenic causes.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. It was established in 1988 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental impacts.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change entered into force on 21 March 1994 in order to fight global warming and climate change, consequently, on 11 December 1997 the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Japan and entered into force on 16 February 2005 which recognize that developed countries are principally responsible for the current high levels of GHG emissions in the atmosphere and to reduce their emissions in the medium term.
In 2007, Mexico established the National Strategy on Climate Change, which was designed as an instrument of environmental policy aimed at generating an important change in terms of a sustainable economy with low carbon emissions. One of the first tasks was to create a Climate Change Policy Law on October 2012, vision 10-20-40. This Law states that during the following 40 years Mexico will look after and preserve the environment. This law is based on scientific facts and sets out specific goals that go beyond greenhouse gases.
In this regard, Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon adopted in 2010 a new environmental policy to reduce pollutant emissions to the atmosphere as a result of daily activities, eliminate water-use inefficiency, promote sustainable territorial development, increase competitiveness, and accomplish its social responsibility to meet the community’s needs in a timely, effective, and ethical manner.
The agenda that arises from the implementation of this policy includes promoting climate education across the university and society, establishing measuring, reporting, and verification techniques, taking monitoring and evaluation actions, as well as preserving, and whenever possible, extending the university’s green areas so that daily activities are done in sustainable spaces, according to the WHO’s international standards. It is also important to encourage the compliance with the current regulations on environmental protection.
Since 2010, UANL has been taking actions to mitigate climate change. This has helped reduce the university’s carbon footprint, going from 11 percent in 2015 to only 5 percent in 2016, despite the increasing number of students and staff.
Preserving Natural Capital
The preservation and sustainable use of natural capital are among UANL’s most relevant actions for climate change adaptation. Its natural reserve comprises over 36 million square meters covered with native vegetation, where more than 149,000 metric tons of carbon are stored, amounting to slightly more than 549,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent. This entire area functions under sustainable management principles that have offset greenhouse gas emissions from its daily activities, achieving a positive balance of 478,230,285 kilograms of CO2 equivalent.