Texas State University was recently approached by the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.According to their website, “The Commitment recognizes the unique responsibility that institutions of higher education have as role models for their communities and in training the people who will develop the social, economic and technological solutions to reverse global warming.” The Commitment involves a series of steps taken by the university to gradually reach the level of being climate neutral.
Being climate neutral involves determining the amount of greenhouse gasses that are emitted from the campus and neutralizing the emissions by conservation methods or through the purchase of carbon offsets. Some 400 schools including Arizona State University, Rice and University of Colorado Boulder have already signed the commitment.
Pat Fogarty, Associate Vice President for Facilities at Texas State sat in on the Presidents Climate Commitment presentation,”Many major institutions including the University of Texas are not going to sign. The main reason is that the carbon credits that you can purchase to offset emissions are not regulated and there is no way to know exactly where money is going” said Fogarty.
According to Fogarty, Texas State’s carbon footprint is roughly 200,000 tons a year. That includes the fuel burned by all vehicles coming to and from the campus (55,000 tons), air travel (5,000 tons) and the 150 million kilowatt hours of electricity used in one year (120,000 tons).
“The only way to really commit is to spend money to buy carbon credits or buy green power, but that is writing a check and seeing no difference on campus. In the end it really comes down to the campus community, what are they willing to personally do to conserve?” said Fogarty.
Hayat Qurunful, student Chair of the Environmental Service Fee Committee said, “We’ve done half of what The Commitment calls for through many initiatives in the Campus Master Plan and seeing how our new buses have bike racks, quite a few things have been done. However, I think it is important for the university to publicly say that we have a concentrated focus on carbon neutrality.”
For more information on the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, visit their website at, http://www.presidentsclimatecommitment.org and information on the Campus Master Plan can be found at, http://www.vpfss.txstate.edu/cmp.
By REAGAN PUGH