The Ohio State University has joined the newly launched University Climate Change Coalition, an alliance of 13 leading research universities that will create a collaborative model to help local communities achieve climate goals.
The initial group of universities from the United States, Canada and Mexico has committed to mobilize resources and expertise to accelerate local and regional climate action in partnership with businesses, cities and states, Ohio State said in a news release.
All members have pledged to reduce their institutions’ carbon footprints, with commitments ranging from making more climate-friendly investments to becoming operationally carbon neutral.
In 2015, Ohio State established sustainability goals including achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and reducing total campus building energy consumption by 25 percent by 2025.
Carbon neutrality involves removing as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as is put into it. The overall goal of carbon neutrality is to achieve a zero-carbon footprint.
“Ohio State is deeply committed to reducing our carbon footprint and promoting energy efficiency,” President Michael Drake said in the release. “As a flagship public research university, we are leveraging our resources to explore cleaner energy sources and solve sustainability challenges in Ohio and around the world.”
Ohio State entered into a public-private energy management agreement with Ohio State Energy Partners in 2017 to provide new resources to advance teaching, learning and research. The partnership includes a commitment to launch an energy-efficiency program to modernize the 485 buildings on the Columbus campus.
In pursuit of its carbon-neutrality goal, the university has reduced its emissions by 4.8 percent since 2015. In addition to energy efficiency measures implemented across the university, renewable wind energy accounts for 20 percent of the university’s total purchased electricity.
Goals for each coalition member include convening a climate-change forum to bring together community and business leaders, elected officials and others. Ohio State is planning a two-day, climate-change awareness event on May 18 and 19 to showcase research and feature a community technology and science festival.
The coalition will operate in partnership with Second Nature’s Climate Leadership Network, a group of hundreds of colleges that have committed to taking action on climate. Oberlin College, Hiram College and Cuyahoga Community College are among the 14 Ohio colleges in the network.
The University of California led the creation of the coalition. In addition to Ohio State and the UC system, other committed members include:
- Arizona State University
- California Institute of Technology
- Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey
- La Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
- The State University of New York (SUNY) system
- The University of British Columbia
- University of Colorado, Boulder
- University of Maryland, College Park
- The University of New Mexico
- The University of Toronto
- The University of Washington
In 2016, the U.S.-based members of the coalition performed about one-quarter of the environmental science research conducted by all U.S. institutions, according to data collected by the National Science Foundation.
“The UC3 coalition believes that addressing climate change is an area where some of the world’s greatest research institutions can, and must, lead,” said University of California President Janet Napolitano in the release.