The Most Exciting Thing Ever: Neutrality

by Austin Park (UCLA):

What’s crunchy, orange, and larger than most horses? I don’t know, but all of the UC campuses have a goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2025! Now that you know that, let me back up.

Carbon neutrality means taking in as much CO2 as we put out in the atmosphere. We take carbon in through reforestation and habitat conservation, while we emit carbon primarily by burning natural gas, coal, and oil.

But wait. Who cares?

A mother who cannot provide food for her children. A bankrupt breadbasket farmer. A family whose home has been swallowed by rising seas. All of these issues—food production, drought, rising sea levels, and countless others—trace a clear, causal line back to climate change. Half of all species alive today could be extinct in under a century. Half. This is not alarmist nonsense, and it is not far off. This is a big, duck-with-an-“f”-ing deal.

But here’s the thing. Carbon emissions come from every country, and they reach every corner of the Earth, causing global climate change. Climate change is inherently everyone’s problem and everyone’s challenge. The UC system is taking on that challenge.

 Here’s what we’ve done:

  • Nov. 2013: UC President Janet Napolitano announces the Carbon Neutrality Initiative (CNI), a pledge to make the entire UC system carbon neutral by 2025.
  • June 2014: Janet Napolitano forms the Global Climate Leadership Council (GCLC), a team of professors, chancellors, college presidents, financial experts, two student representatives, and even Lisa Jackson, ex-Administrator of the US EPA.
  • Dec. 2014: UC System reduces carbon emissions to 2000 levels.
  • Jan 2015: The UC Office of the President disperses grants to each of the UC campuses to hire me and my teammates, the Carbon Neutrality Fellows! Our job is to tell you about the UC goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2025, and to tell you how we are doing it.

 Here’s what we’re going to do:

  • Deep energy efficiency cuts
  • Procure renewable energy
  • Improve carbon offset programs
  • Use more biomethane, a carbon neutral fuel

 And by 2025, here’s what we will have done:


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