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We can’t afford to wait for national and international movement. Action is needed now, and action is what we’re taking with R20. — Arnold Schwarzenegger

Earlier this week the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) signed the R20 Charter as an academic partner at UC Davis during the 3rd Governor’s Global Climate Summit.  R20 – Regions of Climate Action is an alliance of subnational governments and non-governmental partners that will collaborate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, accelerate the implementation of clean energy, drive innovation, and influence national and international policy.

The 3rd Governor's Global Climate Summit hosted at UC Davis drew over 1500 participants from over 80 states.

The group aims to demonstrate that cutting emissions 75% by 2020 is possible at zero net-cost, while growing the green economy and creating jobs.  Read this press release from the Governor’s office for more information.

The ACUPCC Steering Committee enthusiastically endorsed the idea of the ACUPCC partnering with the R20 initiative.  Dr. Linda P.B. Katehi, Chancellor of the University of California, Davis and James L. Buizer, Science Policy Advisor to Arizona State University President Michael M. Crow signed on behalf of the ACUPCC Steering Committee and the entire network of 675 colleges and universities committed to climate neutrality.

Below is the press release about this new partnership:

BOSTON, MA – While the US government and the global community have been slow to address climate disruption, colleges and universities have been demonstrating bold leadership.

The presidents of over 675 institutions of higher learning in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, representing more than 5.8 million students, have signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) to date, committing their institutions to pursing climate neutrality in campus operations and providing the education and research needed for the rest of society to do the same.

Yesterday, this network put its collective power to work by signing on as an academic partner to the R 20 Regions of Climate Action alliance, during a ceremony at the third Governors’ Global Climate Summit hosted by the University of California, Davis.

“We can’t afford to wait for national and international movement. Action is needed now, and action is what we’re taking with R20,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “The role of subnational governments is more important than ever, and California has shown that state and regional governments can institute policies that will grow the green economy, create jobs and clean our environment. With this unprecedented level of cooperation and collaboration, R20 will continue this leadership around the world and will help influence national and international action.”

Timothy White, Chancellor of the University of California, Riverside and Co-Chair of the ACUPCC Steering Committee said, “The R20 initiative is very much in line with the common goal of the 675 colleges and universities that have signed the ACUPCC – to find innovative, economically beneficial ways to dramatically reduce global greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible. It is an exciting opportunity to support this effort, and we expect this collaboration will benefit all organizations involved.”

Launched in early 2007, the ACUPCC has grown quickly, serving as a model for similar initiatives in other countries and other sectors. The GHG emissions inventories and climate action plans for hundreds of the ACUPCC colleges and universities can be found at the initiative’s public online reporting system: www.acupcc.org/reportingsystem.

“We are proud of the progress we have made in the higher education sector to reduce our emissions, but we know it is not enough,” said Mary Spangler, Chancellor of the Houston Community College District and Co-Chair of the ACUPCC Steering Committee. “For us to meet our goals and create a livable, climate neutral future will require unprecedented collaboration across organizations and across sectors – partnering with the R20 initiative represents a powerful way for us to do just that.”

About R20: R20 is a innovative subnational public-private alliance that will implement concrete actions to solve climate change and build the global green economy. R20 includes an expanding and globally diverse group of subnational government members from developed and developing countries that are committed to taking real action on climate change. In addition, the R20 will partner with organizations and individuals from the private sector, academia, national governments, international organizations, and civil society to build momentum for climate action at the national and international levels.

About the ACUPCC: The ACUPCC is a high-visibility effort to address global warming by garnering institutional commitments to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to re-stabilize the earth’s climate. Learn more at: www.presidentsclimatecommitment.org.

About Second Nature: Second Nature works to accelerate movement toward a sustainable future by serving and supporting senior college and university leaders in making healthy, just, and sustainable living the foundation of all learning and practice in higher education. Second Nature is the lead supporting organization of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, a growing network of over 670 signatory higher education institutions in all fifty states that have made a public commitment to neutralize their greenhouse gas emissions and transform their curricula to educate all students to contribute to solving the climate crisis.

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By Glenn Cummings, Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Education
(This article appears in the July, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCC

“Education is not widely regarded as a problem, although the lack of it is.  The conventional wisdom holds that all education is good, and the more of it one has, the better…. The truth is that without significant precautions, education can equip people merely to be more effective vandals of the Earth.” – David Orr (1994)

If, in fact, the survival of the earth hinges on a race between disaster and education, then certainly American higher education holds a key to that outcome. As the Union of Concerned Scientists underscores, few issues signal potential disaster more pointedly than rapidly accumulating carbon emissions (and its multiple impacts).

As colleges and universities throughout the country accept their collective responsibility for educating the next generation in an idea loosely called “sustainability,” the mission of becoming better stewards of the earth has expanded on American college campuses. In recent years, top-level officials at these institutions have called for institution-wide commitments to a more “sustainable” relationship with our natural environment.

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by Bonny Bentzin, Director – University Sustainability Practices, Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University
(This article appears in the April, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCCIn today’s sustainability conscious world, there has been much discussion about food waste reduction options.  At Arizona State University (ASU), in conjunction with our Carbon Neutrality goal, we have established a goal for Zero Waste (solid waste and water waste).  Our food waste reduction strategy includes harvesting food from our landscaping, diverting food waste through appropriate donations, implementing trayless dining programs, monitoring consumption patterns and tracking orders, and the exploration of composting programs. Some of these options are proving more complex than others.

Harvesting oranges from ASU's Tempe Campus Arboretum

"Harvesting oranges from ASU's Tempe Campus Arboretum". Photo: Vince Palermo, Global Institute of Sustainability, ASU

At ASU, our innovative Grounds Services team developed the Campus Harvest program and the Adopt a Date Palm program for our Tempe and Polytechnic Campuses. These programs simultaneously reduce waste, solve a critical staffing situation, and provide a food source for our dining facilities.  As a certified arboretum, we have over 20 varieties of citrus, stone fruit, nuts, herbs and of course our date palm collection — all yielding food that until recently has largely been wasted due to a lack of available staff at harvest time.  The programs coordinate student, faculty and staff to help harvest this fruit from the campus landscaping.  The on-campus health inspector is involved to ensure all health requirements are followed; early coordination with our dining services contractor ARAMARK has resulted in much of this food being diverted into dining halls in addition to off-campus food banks.  We are even looking into the possibility of using these programs to establish a revenue source for these products. Another benefit of Campus Harvest is the educational opportunity for students to get involved in growing/picking food that they can later taste in the dining hall, thereby strengthening the connection between farm and table.

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