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Posts Tagged ‘University of Arizona’

By Anthony Cortese, President, Second Nature

The last few months of 2011 were full of important sustainability news and events relevant to Second Nature’s work and the ACUPCC.

Dr. Mary Fifield, President, Bunker Hill Community College

The ACUPCC Regional Collaborative Symposium, hosted by Bunker Hill Community College in November, was a big hit with very positive feedback from the evaluations from the participants.  One of the highlights was a panel of presidents including Paul Ferguson (University of Maine System), Mary Fifield (Bunker Hill Community College), Gloria Larson (Bentley College) and Jonathan Lash (Hampshire College). A summary of the symposium by Sarah Brylinsky, Program Associate at Second Nature can be found here.

Furthermore, Second Nature released a white paper on the role of higher education in addressing adaptation, or ‘climate preparedness’ to unavoidable climate disruption which will occur because of our inability to cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the last 20 years.  It was developed under the guidance of Professor Jim Buizer (University of Arizona, IPCC member and Second Nature Board Member) with some of the best adaptation experts in the country.

"Women swim through contaminated water in the low-lying Asian country of Bangladesh." (Photo courtesy of Greenpeace UK)

Despite what the public is hearing about climate change and the dismal international results at the Conference of the Parties in Durban, South Africa in December the science is saying that the problem is growing at an unprecedented and scary rate and the tipping points are appearing much sooner and are much more worrisome than when the IPCC came out with its big report in 2007.  The impacts, already being felt around the world and in the US, will be greatest on the poorest people and people of color. The important report released by the International Energy Agency in November underscores the urgency of the challenge – 5 years to make significant changes to reduce emissions.

Although initiatives like the ACUPCC are growing in recognition and success, national and international progress has fallen short. This short video says it all.  Anjali Appadurai, a student at the College of the Atlantic in Maine, addressed the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa the conference on behalf of youth delegates.  Her words spark the powerful feelings of impatience felt by the youth of the world, and those in developing countries who are in desperate need of funding for adaptation against the already damaging impacts of climate change.

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By Joe Abraham, Director, University of Arizona Office of Sustainability and Leslie Ethen, Director, City of Tucson Office of Conservation and Sustainable Development
(This article appears in the December, 2011 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCC

The World Meteorological Organization recently reported global atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) levels rose to new record levels in 2010, with the rate of increase on the rise. The steep upward trend in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations is due in large part to a lack of coherent and committed national and international institutions and policy addressing major emissions sources including fossil fuels, deforestation, and certain land use practices.

To counter this trend, many local and regional governments in the U.S. have begun implementing plans to reduce GHG emissions. Nevertheless, even if we could magically stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at year 2000 levels, the earth would be committed to some temperature increases, due to the long residence time of GHGs in the atmosphere. Consequently, some local and state governments are taking active measures to plan and prepare for inevitable changes, and to make the most of possible opportunities presented by climate change, by identifying options to adapt to projected climate impacts and to increase the resilience of environmental and social systems.

UA students participate in the design and installation of passive water harvesting features into the UA campus landscape

Nearing completion of its Phase One greenhouse gas mitigation plan, the City of Tucson’s Climate Change Advisory Committee (CCC) recently embarked on a complementary planning process to understand local and regional impacts of a changing climate and to identify ways to adapt to those impacts. Researchers with The University of Arizona’s Institute of the Environment have begun working with the CCC and a consultant hired by the City to complete a vulnerability assessment and assist with the development of outreach materials. (more…)

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By Dan Worth, Executive Director, National Association of Environmental Law Societies
(This article appears in the July, 2010 issue of The ACUPCC Implementer)

The ACUPCC

What would it cost to get an entire campus to run on power from renewable sources? How do you sell expensive sustainability measures to a community still skeptical about global warming? What steps can a campus community take to get a diverse community of students, faculty, administrators, and staff out of their comfortable, convenient cars?

Over the past eight months, close to 100 students, 20 administrators, and 15 professors on 10 campuses across the country worked hard, with support from the National Association of Environmental Law Societies (NAELS), to answer these and other tough sustainability questions.

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While the US government and the global community have been slow to address severe climate disruption, colleges and universities are stepping in to boldly slash their carbon emissions, research and develop new technologies, and prepare students to create a safer, clean energy economy.

According to a new annual report (PDF) released today by the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), the participating schools are working to cut a combined estimated 33+ million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year.  The ACUPCC, launched in early 2007, is currently comprised of 677 schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia – representing nearly six million students and about one third of the US higher education student population.

David Shi, President of Furman University and Co-Chair of the ACUPCC, noted, “Sustainability is one of the few enterprises that fosters collaboration among institutions.  That so many schools have embraced the climate commitment is unprecedented.  Such bold action on such a broad scale provides a model for the rest of society to emulate.”

Recently, more than 300,000 individuals called their Senators as part of a coordinated effort promoted by dozens of advocacy groups urging the US government to pass comprehensive climate legislation.  But the higher education sector is not waiting for uncertain government action.

(more…)

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