University Presidents Promote Higher Education Climate Commitment


Individual colleges and universities around the globe have been at the forefront of addressing climate change and other environmental pressures. Now, several university presidents want to create a joint effort modeled on the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. According to the University of Florida's press office, UF President Bernie Machen has joined Arizona State University president Michael Crow and Ball State University president Jo Ann M. Gora in "becoming the first to sign the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment. They hope 380 other presidents and chancellors will do the same by June." According to the American Association for Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE),

Building on the growing momentum for leadership and action on climate change, the Presidents Climate Commitment provides a framework and support for America's colleges and universities to go climate neutral. It recognizes the unique role of presidents and chancellors in providing leadership and guidance in their institutions and to society. Presidents joining the Climate Commitment effort understand that taking a leadership position will improve their institution's position in the competition for research funding and for the best students, faculty, and staff.

The initiative seeks the commitment of at least 200 presidents and chancellors by June 2007 and over 1,000 by December 2009.

The Climate Commitment itself (in PDF) requires signatories to set specific, measurable goals within a definite time frame, and to incorporate proven models for achieving a lighter carbon footprint, including LEED building standards and ENERGY STAR certified products. While the goals have quite a bit of flexibility built in, each institution signing the Commitment promises to have a concrete action plan in place within two years. It's an ambitious effort, but sets a standard for action that other types of institutions and organizations would do well to follow. ::University of Florida News and AASHE