Next steps toward campus carbon neutrality
At the request of Provost Michael Kotlikoff, the Cornell Senior Leaders Climate Action Group last fall submitted its report exploring the feasibility and costs of energy and heating options for the Ithaca campus to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035. Here, Kotlikoff discusses the report and the university’s next steps.
What are your reactions to the report?
As I expressed to the Senior Leader Climate Action Group members in a recent letter, I am grateful for their leadership in developing the options report. Creating this detailed financial analysis of climate-neutrality options for our campus was no small task. The report provides an essential menu of options that enable us to make decisions for achieving climate neutrality based on actual costs in relation to our academic mission.
As a large research institution with energy-intensive facilities in a cold climate, we face significant challenges to the elimination of our carbon footprint. However, Cornell has a history of addressing great challenges, and this report provides us with the best thinking of our faculty and staff on how to achieve this goal. I am particularly pleased to see, in addition to the innovative technical approach to heating our campus, more local recommendations that engage all of us. As a community, we must take local as well as institutional action to decrease fossil fuel consumption and increase clean energy production. The report highlights that “business as usual” is not an option for achieving carbon neutrality, and it highlights specific actions that the university should pursue. But I would also stress the importance of each of us endeavoring to lower our carbon footprint.
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