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ASU commits to greenhouse gas reduction

March 01, 2007

Pledging to significantly reduce and eventually neutralize carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming, ASU President Michael Crow has announced his signing of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.

The commitment is inspired by the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement led by Seattle’s mayor, Greg Nickels, which has signed on 407 mayors as of Feb. 22.

Under the Presidents Climate Commitment, ASU will establish policies and practices to become “climate neutral,” by minimizing carbon emissions as much as possible, and using carbon offsets or other measures to mitigate the remaining emissions.

Crow is a founding member of the leadership circle that promotes the agreement.

Under the guidance and direction of the leadership circle, the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment is being supported and implemented by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), Second Nature and ecoAmerica.

“We are truly grateful to have President Crow spearheading this initiative,” says Anthony Cortese, president of Second Nature, a Boston-based organization that helps colleges and universities develop, advance and achieve their vision of sustainability in their institutions and in society. “His leadership in sustainability is renowned and respected, and he has played an instrumental role in getting other college leaders to commit to the pact.”

“More than ever, universities must take leadership roles to address the grand challenges of the 21st century, and climate change is paramount amongst these,” Crow says. “It is part of our mission to engage in research that addresses climate change. We also have a special responsibility as teachers to educate our students about these issues, and to prepare them to be leaders in seeking solutions to the present and future challenges our planet faces.”

As of Feb. 27, 99 colleges and universities have committed themselves to modeling ways to minimize global warming emissions, integrating sustainability into their curriculum and research, and providing the knowledge and the educated graduates to achieve climate neutrality.

The goal, according to Jim Buizer, executive director of ASU’s Office of Sustainability Initiatives, is to secure 250 signatories by June, when the college and university presidents who sign the pact hold their national meeting, and 1,000 signatories by 2009.

With Crow’s signature, ASU is committed to developing a comprehensive plan to achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible. This includes completing an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions (including emissions from electricity, heating, commuting and air travel) – and, within two years, developing an institutional action plan for becoming climate neutral.

“Also part of the pact is our commitment to integrate sustainability into the curriculum and make it part of the educational experience for all students, as well as expand research and other efforts necessary to achieve climate neutrality,” Buizer says.

ASU, already an international leader in this area, recently launched the world’s first School of Sustainability. Within five years, the school expects to have 450 undergraduate students and 50 students each in its master’s degree and doctoral degree programs.

ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability (GIOS) also catalyzes and advances interdisciplinary research on environmental, economic and social sustainability, especially as it relates to urban areas.

More information on the Presidents Climate Commitment is available at