Mohawk College announces ambitious Climate Action Plan on the road to net-zero operations by 2035
Launching new School of Climate Action & Chair, Skilled Trades for the Green Economy
Mohawk College is taking bold new steps to advance climate action, in its operations and in education, and lead the community toward a resilient net-zero future.
Mohawk College unveiled an ambitious new Climate Action Plan today that will see the college reach net-zero emissions in direct campus operations by the year 2035; will embed sustainability across the curriculum of all programs; and will support research with community partners to develop more than 50 deployable solutions to the climate crisis by 2030. The college also announced plans to create a new school of programs, the School of Climate Action, and has received a donor gift to establish a new Research Chair, Skilled Trades for the Green Economy – the first position of its kind at a Canadian college.
The announcements were made during an event at the Mohawk College Fennell Campus, marking the fifth anniversary of The Joyce Centre for Partnership & Innovation, Canada’s first institutional building certified as net-zero in design and operations.
“This plan is truly transformational and will involve all aspects of Mohawk College’s operations and activities as we further commit ourselves to leadership in climate action,” said Mohawk College President and CEO Ron J. McKerlie. “The Climate Action Plan sets ambitious targets to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero in direct operations by 2035. It commits us to educate and engage every student in sustainability. And it challenges us to expand our support for industry and community partners as we invite them to join us in this imperative work.
“We all have a role to play in climate action. We all can be part of the solution. Mohawk College will dedicate its proven resources and expertise to lead the way.”
The introduction of this new Climate Action Plan follows an ongoing commitment to environmental sustainability at the college. In 2011, Mohawk became the first college in Ontario to adopt a comprehensive environmental management plan that included greenhouse gas reduction targets - emissions have already been reduced by approximately 70 percent from 2007. The Joyce Centre for Partnership & Innovation, which opened in 2018, has served as an example to developers worldwide for sustainable building practices and is home to the Centre for Climate Change Management and the Bay Area Climate Change Council. In September 2020, Mohawk College also led the formation of the Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery, a pan-Canadian coalition of colleges, cégeps, institutes and polytechnics, supporting the transition to a clean economy.
The college’s new Climate Action Plan focuses on three key areas:
- Leading Through Action - Achieving net-zero in operations and demonstrating sustainability on campus.
- Future Ready Graduates - Supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy through education, skills, and training.
- Research and Partnerships - Leading and supporting industry and our local region on the path to decarbonization.
A critical guiding principle for the creation and ongoing implementation of the college’s new Climate Action Plan is the conscious and equal recognition and consideration of Indigenous knowledge, culture and traditions. This approach, called Two-Eyed Seeing, is intended to provide dual understanding for staff and students, while upholding Indigenous perspectives as autonomous and equal. This approach is in keeping with Mohawk College’s efforts to meaningfully advance the important work of truth and reconciliation.
The School of Climate Action
Taking the first step in support of its new Climate Action Plan to prepare Future Ready Graduates, Mohawk College announced it will establish the new School of Climate Action. The School of Climate Action will be home to a portfolio of programs for a new generation of learners to support the emerging green economy. The college is proposing to offer a number of new diploma and degree programs geared specifically to climate action and the green economy.
“The School for Climate Action will serve as a powerful hub of innovation, research, and education at Mohawk College, refocusing and expanding the college’s efforts to address the most pressing challenge of our time,” said Dr. Cebert Adamson, VP, Academic. “We look forward to welcoming students into a new portfolio of climate action-focused diploma and degree programs for the Fall 2025 semester.”
The Gina Fraser Chair in Skilled Trades for the Green Economy
Addressing the focus on Research and Partnerships in the new Climate Action Plan, with the generous support of the estate of Gina Fraser, the college announced the creation of The Gina Fraser Chair in Skilled Trades for the Green Economy. This chair will conduct research and academic work with an interdisciplinary focus on green skills for the green economy. A search will be underway to select the appropriate person to fill this unique role – the first of its kind at a Canadian college.
“We are so grateful to Gina Fraser for this legacy gift which supports important research at Mohawk College in perpetuity,” said Lorna Somers, Executive Director of the Mohawk College Foundation. “Long before there was a skilled trades crisis or City School by Mohawk, Gina Fraser supported programs in the McQuesten neighborhood that introduced young people to the automotive and construction trades. She was passionate about trades and youth in her community.
“Gina would absolutely expect Mohawk College to be future-focused on the needs of youth and the solutions needed to address the crisis at hand and the greening of our economy.”
Collectively, the announcements of its new Climate Action Plan, the School of Climate Action, and The Gina Fraser Chair in Skilled Trades for the Green Economy, reinforce Mohawk College’s role as a national leader in climate action education, research, and operations.
A recent survey of the college student body indicates that nearly 70 percent of students either “always” or “often” wonder about the impacts of climate change and how it may affect them. The college’s renewed dedication to aggressively pursue climate action reflects the priorities of those students and supports the growing climate action initiatives underway in the Hamilton community, across the country and around the world.
The need for climate action is immediate and necessary, and requires us all to participate. With today’s announcement, Mohawk College has strengthened its commitment to this important work, in its operations, its education, and its community engagement.