Last week, the Minnesota Daily reported that the University of Minnesota is halfway to meeting its goal of reducing campus carbon emissions 50 percent by 2020 — a goal that was initially outlined in 2008 by former University President Robert Bruininks.
The University has accomplished this through a holistic approach to energy-use reduction, including replacing light bulbs with more efficient versions, recycling furniture and offsetting campus carbon emissions by planting green spaces on roofs across campus.
Replacing light fixtures and planting roof gardens alone has helped reduce the school’s nearly 640,000 metric tons of emissions from 2008 to 492,121 metric tons in 2016. And the installation of LED lights in the East River Road parking ramp has resulted in an energy savings of 71 percent.
The initiatives are part of the American Universities and Colleges Presidents Climate Commitment to reach carbon neutral status on the University’s campus by 2050.
In the era of President Trump’s administration, this victory should be recognized, savored and used as fuel to push forward on environmentally-friendly initiatives even in the face of a federal government hostile to climate science.
Mere days after Trump assumed office, his administration ordered a media blackout for the Environmental Protection Agency and also scrubbed federal websites of any references to climate change. To make matters worse, Trump’s administration has flagrantly condemned the general consensus from the scientific community about climate change and has planned to eliminate environmental regulations — which 61 percent of Americans oppose, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.
While we may not have the support of previous presidential administrations to leverage the University’s response to climate change, we mustn’t be deterred from continuing our progress.
It is important to recognize the work that has been done at the University, partly because it was out of our own volition that this was accomplished. The Trump administration may think that climate change is a hoax, but the University can continue to make impactful changes to stem the tide of destructive man-made climate change.