Interim President Stellar Signs Open Letter to Support Climate Action
James R. Stellar, UAlbany's interim president, has signed an open letter to Donald Trump. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)
ALBANY, N.Y. (January 3, 2017) – Interim President James R. Stellar, along with presidents and chancellors from more than 170 colleges and universities, have joined together to urge President-elect Donald Trump and incoming congressional representatives to accelerate progress towards a clean energy future.
“Institutions of higher education must reaffirm our commitment to climate action, and the University at Albany will continue to be a leader in this arena," said Stellar. “Through our campus-based energy savings programs as well as world-class academics and research in atmospheric sciences, UAlbany is in a very strong position to help address the climate challenges we face.”
Through an open letter, organized by a diverse group of higher education institutions and the Boston-based nonprofit Second Nature, elected officials were called on to support participation in the Paris Agreement, climate research and investment in the low carbon economy.
“The upcoming transition of federal leadership presents a unique opportunity to address head-on the challenges of climate change by accelerating the new energy economy and creating strong, resilient communities,” wrote the group. “We are committed to developing and deploying innovative climate solutions that provide a prosperous future for all Americans.”
The impacts of climate change are being felt around the world. From more frequent natural disasters and rising sea levels to changing temperatures and weather patterns. If global action is not taken to reduce carbon emissions, leading scientists fear our planet will become polluted and damaged beyond repair.
President Stellar’s signing of the open letter displays the University’s continued commitment to climate action.
In 2015, UAlbany joined the American Campuses Act on Climate Change, a White House-led initiative by President Barack Obama which called on higher education institutes to raise awareness about climate change and enact solutions. More than 200 campuses, representing 3.3 million students signed the pledge.
In addition, the University has been able to reduce its overall carbon emissions by 14 percent since 2005. That number increases to 27 percent if adjusted for growth in campus square footage. Some of the main components of the reduction include:
Implementation of temperature set points controls in buildings on campus and a University-wide effort to reduce energy usage over the winter intersession
Promoting the conservation of electricity through UAlbany Green Scene’s energy campaign and mock electric bill program for Empire Commons apartments residents
Classroom air handler scheduling that’s aligned with class occupancy
Committing to the use of renewable energy by joining the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Program
Increased campus access to alternative transportation through CDTA bus routes, UAlbany shuttles, Zipcar’s car sharing program
Parking discount incentives for campus drivers of electric cars and fuel-efficient vehicles that obtain a combination city/highway of at least 35 mpg
Reduction in waste through a robust composting program in the dining halls which diverted over 500 tons of food waste from the landfill last year
75 percent of academic departments offering sustainability-related courses
Inclusion of climate and environmental science in UAlbany’s NYSUNY2020 plan
LEED Gold Certification for Mohawk Tower, Liberty Terrace Apartments, Massry Center for Business and the Data Center
Striving to meet the goals set in NYS Executive Order 88 which calls for 20 percent reduction in source energy use intensity from 2010-2020
Second Nature’s open letter highlights its efforts to proactively build a sustainable and positive global future through initiating bold commitments, scaling successful actions, and accelerating innovative solutions among leadership networks in higher education.
A full list of the schools supporting the open letter can be found here.