The University of Michigan published its first climate action report detailing the University’s progress toward its sustainability and carbon neutrality goals during the 2022 fiscal year on Friday.
In a press release obtained by The Michigan Daily, Interim University President Mary Sue Coleman said the University will continue its commitment to its carbon neutrality goals and collaborate with various stakeholders to achieve them.
“Carbon neutrality is at the heart of what we do; in planning and powering our buildings, deploying our buses, pursuing leading research, and making investments to fund such work,” Coleman wrote. “I look forward to building on our progress and learning from like-minded partners and communities as we pursue a more sustainable world. Together, we can take meaningful climate action.”
According to the report, the University has reduced its total greenhouse gas emissions by 25% from 2010 to 2022, achieving a goal to do so three years early. This includes a 4% reduction in emissions in the past fiscal year.
The report also said the University is on track to reduce both scope one and two emissions by 50% by 2025. This is in line with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recommendation to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030.
The University’s carbon neutrality plan — which was released in March 2021 — highlights three kinds of carbon emissions and unique timelines to reduce each type. Scope one includes direct carbon emissions from University facilities, which the University is working to eliminate entirely by 2040. Scope two entails off-campus purchases of electricity, which the University hopes to achieve net-zero emissions by 2025. Scope three includes indirect carbon emissions from food and travel. The University said they are working to define its goal and timeline for scope three emissions reduction by 2025.
The University’s carbon neutrality plan came as a result of continued student and community activism to push the University to take more aggressive action on climate change and go beyond the recommended emission reduction targets. Throughout the two-year process of creating the plan, the President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality engaged in extensive research by a group of faculty, students and other advisors starting in 2019.
In the past year, the University identified 50 energy conservation projects to finance through its Revolving Energy Fund, which in total, is estimated to reduce carbon emissions by over 5,600 metric tons per year. They also issued $300 million in green bonds and unveiled plans for geothermal heating and cooling systems. The University also released the U-M Emissions Reduction Dashboard this year, where members of the campus community can track carbon neutrality progress.
In a statement, the University highlighted its key priorities for climate action in the upcoming fiscal year.
“In the year ahead, key priorities include finalizing a renewable-power purchase agreement, initiating on-campus solar energy projects and partnering with like-minded institutions, consortia and community stakeholders,” the statement read.
The statement also said University President-elect Santa Ono remains committed to upholding and advancing the University’s climate goals.
“President-Elect Santa J. Ono carries a demonstrated commitment to sustainability in higher education,” the statement read. “At the University of British Columbia, Ono leads the University Climate Change Coalition, of which U-M is an active member.”
Daily Staff Reporter Samantha Rich can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.