Student government vote makes CU the first university to commit to climate neutrality
The University of Colorado Student Union ratified a resolution Thursday night to commit the campus to climate neutrality.
The bill was passed unanimously, and it dedicates CU to a state of existence that emits no net release of greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming and climate change. CU is the first university in the country to pass this resolution after a national campaign by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
Climate neutrality can be achieved by reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with the combustion of fossil fuels. A bill passed in 2000 allowed for all student buildings funded by UCSU to be run by wind energy electricity production. The largest of these buildings include the UMC, Wardenburg Health Center, and the Recreation Center. UCSU is the first student government in the nation to use wind as energy.
The commitment to climate neutrality is complex. Within two months of ratifying this bill, UCSU must create an institutional structure to guide the development and implementation of the plan. They expect to have a comprehensive inventory of all greenhouse gas emissions within a year. This inventory includes emissions from electricity, heating, commuting and air travel. A plan of action outlining goals, methods of progression and research will be completed by 2009.
Dave Newport, director of the Environmental Center, noted that the paybacks to adopting this commitment are considerable.
“This mandate will significantly change many things, and the long term benefits are substantial,” Newport said.
A bill to change the language of the dedication plaques to be placed in ATLAS, Wolf Law and the new business buildings was also on last nights agenda; however, it was tabled to be discussed at a future meeting.
An issue exists with a phrase on the plaque that says, “.the State of Colorado would not fund capital projects in higher education.” However, this is not entirely correct. The State of Colorado contributed $1.5 million to Wolf Law, $1.6 million for ATLAS and $800,000 for the business school.
“It’s important to maintain a positive relationship with the state; having a negative attitude towards that body is not effective,” said Scott McEachron, UCSU representative-at-large.