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UB Reaching for Carbon Neutrality by 2030

By Joyce Kryszak


Amherst, NY – UB unveiled its draft action plan Tuesday for reaching climate neutrality on campus by 2030. Elements of the plan were well received. But the deadlines were met with skepticism by many of the students and faculty in attendance at UB's second sustainability forum.

The 121 page plan lays out specific strategies for reaching the ambitious goal. It includes attention to everything from energy usage and transportation to recycling and composting.

The bottom line is reducing and measuring carbon emissions to meet a deadline of zero emissions by 2030. Jordan Gerow is a senior who has been involved with the process since it began last fall. He said the plan is unrealistic.

"None of the specific targets, none of the interim dates, none of the carbon impacts have been addressed," said Gerow. "I don't see how we are going to have an accepatable, executable plan by September if it doesn't move beyond that stage rather quickly."

Input from the UB and broader community at last October's forum was used to develop the plan. UB Executive Vice President Robert Shibley is leading the effort. He said people wanted an ambitious plan that tackles many environmental concerns. He admits the goals might need tweaking.

"It makes no sennse to set a low bar, so we set a high bar," said Shibley. "If we don't make it we adjust to a reasonable number as we get closer and closer to it."

That's a concern for Jessie Dresch. The sophomore sees UB having trouble meeting the most basic steps toward the goal. Dresch works in the dining hall where she said environmental policies that are already in place are not put into practice.

"We throw out so much food and its supposed to be composted, but it isn't - ever," said Dresch.

Some other faculty and staff, as well as students echoed those concerns. The plan does have steps to address the necessary culture change. UB's Shibley said it will, in fact, take a sea change, as well as a lot of time, effort and, of course, money.

But Shibley said the administration signed the American College Presidents Climate Commitment agreeing to meet the goals. And he said that's a pledge they'll keep.

The plan will be revised after comments from the group and the community are received. The final plan will be filed in September.

Click the audio player above to hear Joyce Kryszak's story now or use your podcasting software to download it to your computer or iPod.