University of Michigan’s Carbon Neutral Trajectory
During his Oct. 4, 2018, Leadership Breakfast, President Schlissel announced a commitment to putting U-M on a trajectory toward carbon neutrality, and levels of greenhouse gas release that are environmentally sustainable. As part of this commitment, U-M will seek to work in partnership with Ann Arbor, and other regional stakeholders, and in a fashion that can be replicated by others all around our state and nation.
As the President stated, “even if we achieve a zero net carbon footprint for our campus alone, it won’t make a measurable difference for global climate change. But if we do it in a way that takes advantage of our power to discover and our ability to convene around a major challenge, we can better achieve our broader ambitions.”
He is working to form a presidential commission that will be tasked with developing U-M’s plan. The commission will consider carefully how to balance carbon neutrality in the context of overall environmental sustainability, will suggest concrete avenues to achieve our goals, and will recommend ways in which all members of our community can share responsibility for our success.
The plan will include specific targets and a timeline for U-M itself to achieve carbon neutrality in a financially responsible fashion, in the context of a recommended set of strategies that can be shared by others in Ann Arbor and around the state to achieve the same goal.
Part of the commission’s charge will be to engage broadly with our community, and while we won’t pre-empt their work before they get started, President Schlissel is eager to capture ideas that may inform our efforts in the months ahead.
If you have ideas for the commission, please share them here. Ideas will be considered by the committee once it is up and running later this semester.
U-M is on a trajectory to meet and even exceed the goal set by President Emerita Mary Sue Coleman to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent over a 2006 baseline by 2025. This was an ambitious goal made more so by the energy requirements of a campus that has grown by about 20 percent since then. The new presidential commission will help us consider what is next.
At the University of Michigan, we have the knowledge and power to leave future generations with a planet that has the same potential to support life and human activity as the one we all inherited. We can address the issue of sustainability from a very broad base of research and education perspectives, as well as through the actions we take as a community of more than 80,000 individuals. Planet Blue represents our unified commitment to sustainability education, research and campus operations.