At noon on Friday, Sept. 14, President Mark Gearan signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, making Hobart and William Smith Colleges a charter member of an effort to reduce emissions of gases responsible for global warming. The initiative by America’s colleges and university presidents aims to address global warming by garnering institutional commitments to neutralize greenhouse gas emissions on campuses across the country.
At the signing ceremony in front of the Scandling Center, Gearan was joined by Associate Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies Tom Drennen, a specialist on energy use and climate change, Clancy Brown ’09, who last year began developing a carbon inventory for the Colleges, as well as members of a task force consisting of students, faculty and staff who will guide the on-campus efforts. Gearan and Drennen discussed the Colleges’ plan to become more green and work to ameliorate global warming and climate problems.
In signing the Presidents Climate Commitment, the Colleges joined a list of more than 400 colleges and universities leading the way to reduce the threats of climate change. The movement provides a framework and support for America’s colleges and universities to go carbon neutral. The signatories of the Commitment pledge to fulfill a three-step constitution which includes expediently initiating a comprehensive plan for climate neutrality, taking tangible action to reduce greenhouse gases, and publicizing the action plan, inventory and progress. The Commitment recognizes the unique responsibility that institutions of higher education have as role models for their communities and in training the people who will develop the social, economic and technological solutions to reverse global warming.
“We have a responsibility to do our best in lessening the tolls we take on the environment, said Gearan. “As an institution of higher learning, we have a duty to educate those who will one day control the issues on what the problems are, and subsequently what needs be done.
Drennen, the author of “Pathways to a Hydrogen Future,” is excited about the effort. “It’s not going to be easy, he said, “but it is the right thing to do – to begin down the path of making this campus more environmentally friendly. Upon the signing of this document and the implementation of this plan, we will be taking immediate efforts in relieving the strains on the local environment, and working toward a long-term goal of cleaning up the world.
In addition to Gearan and Drennen, tasks force members include Tara Curtin, associate professor of geoscience; Peter Polinak, vice president of finance; Clancy Brown ’09 from Kennebunk, Maine; Mark Vogelgesang ’08 from Marietta, Georgia; Cathy Williams, director of communications; Lauren Shallish ’05, chief of staff; Robert Flowers, interim vice president of student affairs; and Howard Simmons, director of buildings and grounds.
A story about the ceremony was printed in the Sunday, Sept. 16 issue of the Finger Lakes Times. Read HWS commits to green initiative.