Monday, April 25, 2022

Penn State Task Force Unveils Recommendations To Eliminate 100% Of Carbon Emissions By 2035

Last spring, at the request of President Eric Barron, a team of more than 20 faculty members, staff members and students began to formulate a plan to address climate change, one of the most complex and urgent issues of our time, by significantly lowering the University’s greenhouse gas emissions on all its campuses. 

On April 21, the Carbon Emissions Reduction Task Force unveiled its recommendations for the University to achieve 100% emissions reduction by 2035.  

“The scientific evidence is clear that action must be taken to avoid the devastating impacts of climate change,” said Barron. “Penn State has an extraordinary legacy of meeting society’s grand challenges with innovation and commitment. The University has already made great strides in reducing its carbon emissions, even exceeding the requirements set by the Commonwealth, and it remains committed to taking bold actions toward creating a climate-positive future that benefits all.” 

According to task force co-chair Robert Cooper, senior director of energy and sustainability in Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant, the team’s report comprises a comprehensive roadmap of goals, milestones and actions that will position the University as a leader in climate-smart solutions. 

“Our report outlines a phased approach to further lower greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2025, 70% by 2030 and 100% by 2035, with continued reductions beyond 2035, ultimately leading to a safe, healthy and just future,” said Cooper. 

Specific recommendations for meeting these goals are numerous and include: 

-- Electrifying Penn State’s fleet vehicles 

-- Expanding solar infrastructure through public-private partnerships 

-- Implementing metrics related to carbon emissions to increase purchasing efficiencies 

-- Decarbonizing building heating and cooling systems 

-- Developing new net zero sources of energy and energy storage technologies 

“We have conducted extensive research to identify actions that will be as cost-effective and impactful as possible,” said task force co-chair Timothy White, research professor in the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute and sustainability officer for the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. “Our hope is that investing in these actions will deliver dividends not only for the environment, but for the University and its students — with potential cost savings and opportunities to enhance our teaching, research and outreach related to climate change solutions.” 

Barron noted that some of the proposals in the report are associated with significant costs; however, the Office of the Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations will be working over the coming months to examine the potential for corporate, foundation and individual philanthropic gifts to support Penn State’s path to reduced emissions. 

In the meantime, President Barron has encouraged the task force to proceed with many of the action items aimed at the 2025 target, including evaluating the costs and benefits of electrifying the Penn State fleet, evaluating the potential for additional solar projects within Pennsylvania or elsewhere, and considering the potential for specifying metrics related to carbon emissions during procurements. 

“I am grateful to the task force members for their efforts to identify actionable steps that Penn State can take to achieve its greenhouse gas reduction goals,” said Barron. “Penn State has some of the best and brightest experts working on climate change issues, and we are well positioned to make significant progress.”

Click Here to read the Task Force recommendations.

(Reprinted from Penn State News.)

Related Article:

-- University Of Pittsburgh Announces Climate Action Plan To Go Carbon Neutral By 2037

[Posted: April 25, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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