As world leaders are meeting in Paris at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, UMass Dartmouth has signed on to the American Campus Act on Climate Pledge and renewed the Second Nature Climate Commitment in the lead up to the Global Awareness Education and Action (GAEA) Summit focusing on the impacts of climate change on the region.
UMass Dartmouth is joining more than 200 college and universities across the country which have committed to take action on climate by signing President Barack Obama’s Higher Education Climate Pledge:
“As institutions of higher education, we applaud the progress already made to promote clean energy and climate action as we seek a comprehensive, ambitious agreement at the upcoming United Nations Climate Negotiations in Paris. We recognize the urgent need to act now to avoid irreversible costs to our global community’s economic prosperity and public health and are optimistic that world leaders will reach an agreement to secure a transition to a low carbon future. Today our school pledges to accelerate the transition to low-carbon energy while enhancing sustainable and resilient practices across our campus.”
The University has also reaffirmed its commitment with Second Nature, a nonprofit organization working to help colleges and universities expand their efforts to make environmentally sustainable and just action a fundamental aspect of higher education. By re-signing Second Nature’s Climate Leadership Commitment, UMass Dartmouth will take the next step following the University’s development of a comprehensive climate action plan by creating a resiliency plan in conjunction with its surrounding communities. UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Divina Grossman serves on the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) Steering Committee through Second Nature.
UMass Dartmouth sustainability initiatives include:
- Instituting the first public university or college in Massachusetts voluntary Green Fee which was instituted by student vote to fund sustainable projects.
- Teaching sustainability in the classroom as a minor, a concentration in the Liberal Arts major, and as a concentration in the Masters in Business Administration and Public Policy degrees.
- Increasing the recycling rate on campus from 8.7 percent in 2013 up to 26 percent in 2014.
- Researching multiple areas of sustainability including highway pavement, ocean acidification, oceanic carbon sequestration, fisheries, public policies regarding land use and oceanic modeling.
- 20 percent carbon emission reduction since 2008.
- UMass Dartmouth has substantially increased the efficiency and renewability of its energy generation, including the installation of a 600kW wind turbine, a 265 kW solar PV array, and a 1.7MW CHP system.
- UMass Dartmouth's Green Move Out program, made up of a team of students, who work diligently throughout Residence Halls collecting thousands of pounds in donated items during the University's Finals Week.
- Appliance and household goods collected via Green Move Out were checked, tested, cleaned, and then resold in the New2U yard sale during the fall semester with all proceeds going toward the continuation of the program.
- Infrastructure upgrade to replace the 30- to 45-year old steam pipes underground on campus.
- New 40 ft. insulated container provided by agriculture technology company Freight Farms, which offers the campus the opportunity to grow farm-fresh produce on campus year-round.
The GAEA Climate Summit focused on the science and policy of climate change and climate-related resiliency planning takes place December 3-4, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days. Sponsored by UMass Dartmouth, the Island Foundation, and the New Bedford Whaling Museum in collaboration with seven daily newspapers located south of Boston, the GAEA Summit will convene a region-wide conversation that brings together scientists, policy makers, business leaders, and citizens from all 54 cities and towns to discuss the issues in a manner that educates and mobilizes individuals and communities.
UMass Dartmouth distinguishes itself as a vibrant public university actively engaged in personalized teaching and innovative research, and acting as an intellectual catalyst for regional economic, social, and cultural development. UMass Dartmouth's mandate to serve its community is realized through countless partnerships, programs, and other outreach efforts to engage the community, and apply its knowledge to help address local issues and empower others to facilitate change for all.
Editor's Note: Video above offers details regarding the GAEA Climate Summit from School for Marine Science & Technology Dean Steven Lohrenz.