By Christine Condon and Brad Dress
University of Maryland President Wallace Loh announced a plan to further reduce this university’s carbon emissions in a message to the campus community Monday.
This university will purchase carbon offsets to compensate for air travel emissions and offer incentives to encourage carpooling and public transit usage, Loh wrote in the email. It will also alter its purchasing practices while aiming to reduce its carbon footprint.
Between 2005 and 2015, this university reduced its carbon footprint by 27 percent.
Loh lauded the “inspired commitment” of the campus so far, and said the new plan, called Campus Climate Action 2.0, will “ensure [this university’s] progress” toward its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
The new plan aims to reduce this university’s carbon footprint to half of its 2005 level by 2020, and by another 10 percent five years later. It is part of this university’s overall carbon neutrality goal.
“We’re educating a generation that will be the first generation to experience the full impact of climate change, and the last generation that will be able to do anything about it,” Loh said. “But we need to start doing it [climate action] now.”
Despite the costs and other obstacles, Carlo Colella, this university’s administration and finance vice president, said he believes this goal is attainable.
“The Climate Action Plan 2.0 … will chart a very clear path to the 2020 goal,” said Colella, who is also this university’s sustainability council chair. “Complete carbon neutrality in 2050 — we have a ways to go, but we have time to get there.”
The original Campus Climate Action plan debuted in 2009 and detailed this university’s goals to reduce 50 percent of emissions by 2020 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
This university’s Department of Transportation Services announced its new campaign to support sustainable travel earlier this month. They introduced a website that displays alternative environmentally friendly routes and designated a “Green [Parking] Lot” outside Stamp Student Union specifically for bikes, carpool vehicles and low-emission vehicles.
Over the summer of 2017, the Office of Sustainability also completed the installation of more than 7,000 solar panels on three garages at this university: Mowatt Lane, Regents Drive and Terrapin Trail.
Following the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords in June, Loh signed on to the “We Are Still In” Coalition, pledging to pursue climate goals and greenhouse gas emission reduction despite the administration’s decision.
Loh was among hundreds of politicians, university leaders and businessmen and women to join the coalition, including university alumnus, Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank.