UC signs White House pledge to promote action on climate change

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The University of California has announced its signing of a White House Climate Leadership Pledge, joining hundreds of other universities in declaring its support of decisive international involvement on climate action.

Signers of the pledge, which is a part of the White House American Campuses Act on Climate day of action, request that leaders of nations come to an agreement on authoritative action at the COP-21 United Nations Climate Conference in Paris beginning Nov. 30. Leading up to the conference, the pledge has been signed by more than 200 colleges and universities across the country.

“We recognize the urgent need to act now to avoid irreversible costs to our global community’s economic prosperity and public health,” said UC President Janet Napolitano in an open letter to the White House Council on Environmental Quality Office of Public Engagement.

All UC campuses continue to focus on lowering carbon energy usage while developing long-term habits that promote sustainability. The university is working to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025, and trying to make carbon neutrality and sustainability a part of the educational experiences for all students while expanding research in carbon neutrality and climate resilience.

The university also intends to profitably invest at least $1 billion of the university’s endowment and pension funds over the next five years in solutions to global climate change.

“The significance of anticipated COP-21 greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals are, from a quantitative, scientific perspective laughably inconsequential,” said Ian Utz, the co-president of Bay Area Environmentally Aware Consulting Network, in an email. He added, however, that he believes the conference could represent a turning point in which major polluters — such as China and the United States — could take greater responsibility and work better together in the future.

Utz said in an email that “this national White House pledge is a nod from the federal government that the real climate action is hyper-local and hyper-institutional.”

Contact Jason Kim at [email protected].