More than 300 U.S. colleges and universities have committed to major carbon reduction targets and climate resiliency plans as part of Second Nature’s Climate Action Network. The goal is to make college campuses climate neutral in the span of just a few years. Leaders of the movement gathered in Bonn, Germany this week during the COP23 UN Climate negotiations to discuss.
“We’ve been working on carbon reduction efforts for many years, and we still have work to do,” said Dianne Harrison, president of California State University, Northridge, who attended the Bonn climate talks this week along with representatives of several other colleges and universities. “We’re a very large campus — with close to 40,000 students — and are in the middle of what I’d term a ‘public transportation desert,’ so that creates a lot of additional car traffic.”
Among the initiatives Harrison cited to reduce car traffic on campus are discounts for students on bus and metro passes and free bike share programs. But it doesn’t stop at transportation.
“Water is a huge issue in southern California,” she added, where recent droughts have caused concern over water usage and availability. To that end, staff at Cal State Northridge developed technology to detect leaks in their irrigation system.
According to Harrison, beyond reducing emissions and cutting waste, universities should partner with their communities on climate resilience preparations. “We’ll partner with everyone who has a stake in this [to figure out] how we will be prepared, how we will adapt and how will we be resilient to any of the climate changes that are forecast for our area.”
Nexus Media is a syndicated newswire covering climate, energy, politics, art and culture. Owen Agnew, Monika Sharma, Jeremy Deaton and Josh Landis contributed to this report.