Janet Napolitano announced the goal that all University of California campuses must be carbon neutral by 2025. Carbon neutrality implies that the campuses would have a net zero carbon footprint — the amount of carbon produced would be balanced or offset by other means. This goal would make the UC system the first university system to achieve complete carbon neutrality.
Following Napolitano’s announcement, 200 scientists and scholars came together at UC San Diego on Oct. 26 and 27 for the first UC Summit on Carbon and Climate Neutrality. All 10 campuses were represented in this group, which included state and federal officials, corporate sustainability leaders and green technology entrepreneurs. The group discussed ways in which UC research is currently transforming the possibilities for carbon and climate mitigation. Their discussion also focused on scalable solutions for dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions which could be used for both California and the world.
The conference was headed by program chair David Auston, who is also the executive director of UCSB’s Institute for Energy Efficiency. He has worked very closely with Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Director of UCSD’s Center for Atmospheric Sciences at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, along with a team of organizers spanning across the UC system.
In addition, there were a multitude of speakers who represented many different angles through which to approach the problem of greenhouse gas emissions and the challenges presented in finding a solution. In true interdisciplinary fashion, the different ways to approach the issue ranged from science and culture to politics and communication. The speakers and representatives pulled from a broad spectrum of fields, including energy, ethics, climate science, environmental justice, climate science, economics and religion. Some of the speakers included California Governor Jerry Brown, UC President Janet Napolitano, Nobel laureate and chemist Mario Molina and Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program.
Because the UC system and California are leaders in climate mitigation, the research and advances implemented at the UC and state level can be used as a model for the rest of the country and the world. In the multidisciplinary discussions at this conference, it was deemed that not just the technology, but policy issues, economic issues and social science issues will be incredibly important as well. At the summit, a 300-page report was released, called, “Bending the Curve: Ten scalable solutions for carbon neutrality and climate stability.” This report has over 50 UC authors and will be published in book form next year by UC press.