Land & Environment

Greenhouse Gas Reduction Committee Looks to Reduce USU Carbon Footprint

USU President Noelle Cockett.

Utah State University President Noelle Cockett has formed a campus Greenhouse Gas Reduction Steering Committee charged to develop specific options for USU to deliver on a commitment to reduce its carbon footprint. 

The president’s action comes in response to a resolution developed by 25 faculty from across the Logan and regional USU campuses and passed recently in a near-unanimous vote by the USU Faculty Senate. The Faculty Senate resolution highlights the urgency and relevance of climate change to Utah, describes some of the actions USU has taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, calls for a re-doubling of efforts and provides some initial recommendations to reduce USU’s greenhouse gas pollution.

The president named Chris Luecke, dean of the Quinney College of Natural Resource, and Alexi Lamm, USU’s Sustainability Council chair, as co-chairs of the new steering committee.

“I want to thank the Faculty Senate, particularly president-elect Patrick Belmont, for bringing attention to this serious issue and for delivering these recommendations,” Cockett said. “I’m eager for the committees to get started and to come back with a manageable plan for moving forward as quickly as possible.”
In addition to the steering committee, the president also called for three working groups that will report to the steering committee. These working groups will provide input in three areas: USU’s Energy Portfolio; Air Travel and Internal Price on Carbon; and Education on Best Practices. The final recommendations will include cost estimates and potential policy changes.

The president is working now with the two co-chairs and with Belmont to name members of each of the committees in the coming days, including campus experts who can provide targeted advice and input on the committees. 

Along with being president elect of the Faculty Senate, Belmont is an associate professor in the Department of Watershed Sciences and USU’s Climate Adaptation Science program. He said scientists have learned a tremendous amount about the causes and threats posed by climate change over the past few years, and he is encouraged to see such enthusiastic support from the faculty, facilities department and the administration.

“These efforts will ensure that USU is doing its part to avoid transition to a climate that is perilous to people, our economy and ecosystems that we depend on every day,” Belmont said. 

Lamm, who has been USU’s sustainability coordinator since 2012, said USU has a history of environmental stewardship. USU has reduced emissions per student about 20 percent since 2007, and now the university needs to focus on planning a path to meet its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

“By continuing our progress on efficiency and finding cleaner sources for the energy we use, we’ll leave behind the best legacy we can for current and future Aggies,” Lamm said. “Our faculty and students are on the cutting edge of research, and our staff are creative and committed. We can all take the knowledge and discoveries here and put them into action, modeling measures that will make our community a healthier place.”

President Cockett said she thinks it is realistic to expect specific recommendations coming forward to her from the steering committee during the fall 2019 semester.

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