The University of Arkansas announced today it’s recommitting to a pledge on reducing greenhouse gas emissions as part of the landmark agreement on climate change reached by most of the world’s nations in Paris over the weekend.
In 2007, the Fayetteville campus and hundreds of other institutions of higher education around the U.S. signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, thereby setting goals for reducing their carbon footprint in the coming decades. Today, the UA is one of 319 colleges and universities that have made such pledge — now called the American Campuses Act on Climate — the school said in a press release:
The U of A was among the first group of institutions to sign the original American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007, and developed its own long range Climate Action plan. The U of A is on schedule to meet its intermediate climate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels next year, four years ahead of schedule. This is in spite of increasing enrollment by more than 10,000 students and adding new buildings over the past 15 years.
While the commitment itself isn’t new, reaffirming these goals is important because it shows that the UA and other schools take their nonbinding pledges on emissions seriously. This is especially true in the context of the Paris agreement, which suffers from an absence of hard mandates and enforcement and transparency mechanisms. And on a statewide level, with Arkansas officials continuing to resist the federal Clean Power Plan — the most important piece of the puzzle in the U.S. meeting its emissions reduction goals — leadership on the climate issue from the state’s flagship public university is very much welcome.
One question. Where are Arkansas’s other colleges and universities? Surely UCA, ASU-Jonesboro, Hendrix College, UALR, Ouachita Baptist University and others can step up and commit as well. The only other Arkansas signatory I’ve been able to find online is Northwest Arkansas Community College, the two-year campus in Bentonville. Maybe more are on their way?
Here’s the pledge from Fayetteville:
“The University of Arkansas through our ongoing commitment to reducing climate impact has made dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions over the past eight years, even while increasing the number of students, staff, faculty and buildings on our campus. We are continuing our journey to identify and implement scientifically sound, cost-effective strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We recognize that everything is connected so we are addressing social and community sustainability issues in concert with greenhouse gas reduction strategies. As a leader in sustainable technology innovation, we pledge to:
· Provide a model for other institutions and businesses to follow through demonstrated positive financial value for the university;
· Engage in robust social discourse with our campus, city, and state community to expand understanding of our common values and opportunities to reduce climate impacts;
· Continue to explore the science and technologies that will protect and restore the resilience of Earth’s biosphere.
More information on the American Campuses Act on Climate is available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/12/11/american-campuses-act-climate.