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Archive for February, 2007

The Chronicle had an article about the recent commitment to climate neutrality. Check it out below:

http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/Feb07/climate.change.aj.html

VOTE YES FOR CLEAN ENERGY ON MONDAY!

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After a year of aggressive campaigning to make Cornell go Beyond Kyoto, Cornell has embraced the goal of achieving climate neutrality to “make a difference… for the world at large” through leadership. With a majority of the campus supporting this goal, Cornell is ready to begin planning how to truly make the campus climate neutral.

Before you go on to read the press release, I wanted to let you all know that this has been the result of an amazing team. Everybody from the student organization KyotoNOW! should be proud, and we truly thank the entire Cornell community (particularly student, organization, faculty, and department endorsers), as well as the broader campus climate movement, for motivating us to do better every day.

To read the press release on President Skorton’s commitment, click here.

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The first issue of Campus Sustainability News for the Spring semester is scheduled to be completed by March 10. If you have great updates to tell everybody, then you should submit them for the newsletter.

Send all entries to Carlos at cmr55@cornell.edu.

Thanks!

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Break the Addiction

Love or hate MTV, here’s a nice clip of the Campus Climate Challenge, highlighting the students themselves!
http://www.mtv.com/overdrive/?id=1542702

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After meeting with members of KyotoNow! last Friday to discuss the possibility of Cornell becoming climate neutral, President David Skorton decided to form a six person committee of students and faculty to gain a more in-depth understanding of the implications of the commitment. Skorton promised to present his decision by Feb. 23.

“I strongly endorse the students of KyotoNow! and I am highly inclined to sign the commitment, but I don’t want my signature on that paper to be an empty gesture; I want Cornell to be able to honor its commitment,” said Skorton.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

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Sign It, Skorton
Brutal Honesty
By Jeff Purcell
Feb 5 2007

Among other criticisms, former President Lehman was accused of being distant and unresponsive to student and faculty concerns. To show that he was none of these things, President Skorton moved into Mary Donlon Hall and, like every other freshman, took the swim test. From his inauguration to his bedroom, the point was that Skorton was listening to students and sensitive to their concerns.
This Friday, he can prove it when he meets with Kyoto Now!
Formed to engage Cornell’s leadership and community around environmental concerns, Kyoto Now! has joined a nationwide effort to improve campus-based emissions and waste. And now, timed to coincide with the release of the Fourth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Kyoto Now! is presenting Skorton with a Climate Neutrality resolution.
Working with the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (www.aashe.org), the resolution requires Cornell to join hundreds of other colleges and universities to become “carbon neutral” by 2050. This pledge sets a clock for our phasing out of fossil fuels, and increasing reliance on renewables, so that by 2050 Cornell will no longer require burning anything to power itself. By pushing campuses to design and implement comprehensive efficiency enhancement, waste reduction, mass transportation and reusable energy policies, AASHE is pushing for leadership to prevent climate change.
“We’re using the resolution to educate our students, so that when they become leaders they’ll understand how to be a sustainable community,” and “we’re pushing Cornell to be a leader in itself,” says Kyoto Now!’s Vice President Katherine McEachern ’09. “We need every school to go carbon neutral.”
Last weekend, the group packed Robert Purcell and Cornell Cinema to show climate change documentaries and has held rallies and teach-ins to publicize the imperative of reducing emissions.
With over 2,000 student signatures urging Skorton to commit, Kyoto Now! is working toward securing more transparent and forward-thinking leadership than Cornell has seen before. In 2001, the administration agreed to go beyond standards required by the Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty the U.S. signed but has never ratified. The Protocol asks countries to reduce emissions to 5 percent below their 1990 levels, and Cornell has lived up to its promise — sort of. Though our emissions are down, our energy use is up, and our projections make clear that we’ll break our promises by 2009. Day Hall may be betting that student memory is only four years.
These promises were made because of student demands. In 2001, Kyoto Now! gave President Rawlings over 3,000 student signatures and mountains of faculty support demanding Kyoto-like commitments from Cornell. After his silence to this series of actions, members staged a sit-in at Day Hall during Cornell Days. Negotiations ended with Vice President Hal Craft ’61 pledging Cornell would go 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2008.
Rawlings required dramatic action to convince him of an idea whose time had obviously come. Lehman refused to negotiate with students and faculty who protested his decision to raze three acres of trees to build a parking lot. With a sensible and easily achieved policy on his desk, will Skorton sign the pledge on Friday?
“This is what schools are going to be doing,” McEachern says.
And she’s right. Schools that have signed the pledge and are working to implement it include the entire University of California system, the University of Florida, Oberlin, Carleton and the University of Minnesota. Big and small, urban and rural, campus leaders elsewhere feel the wind blowing.
Designing a policy to reduce — and ultimately end, by 2050 at the latest — our reliance on fossil fuels is a process, and at this point it’s vital to secure a concrete commitment to that process. Kyoto Now!’s next step is to begin a “dialogue with the community to devise a plan to achieve the goals. It’s about engaging climate change,” not just observing it.
What’s important to monitor, after Skorton signs the pledge, is how Cornell plans for its future. Its current CO2 forecast, as noted, is poor. And its quarter-billion dollar residence hall rebuilding includes just one building certified by LEEDs, a construction industry standard for sustainable growth. The Alice Cook House was designed to reduce energy needs and abate its impact on its surroundings. Its three-acre parking lot notwithstanding, Cook’s roof collects rainwater and moderates the building’s temperature and creative use of windows and light fixture placement reduces its energy needs. This is an example of what we should be doing — with every building. Instead of filling this paper and the Chronicle with stories about our few good deeds, Cornell needs to fill its campus with many of them.
The entirety of Cornell’s environmental impact is called its footprint. This includes its energy, water and waste, its buildings and commuters. It considers where we buy our food, how far it travels to get here, how much we throw away and where we throw it.
President Skorton is four days away from an opportunity to lead Cornell toward the future of reducing our footprint, to enhance our impact on New York. Previous presidents of Cornell have failed to appreciate the concerns of thousands of students and faculty, especially in areas of Cornell’s impact on its surroundings. Swimtrunks were a fine start, but the next step is to sign the Climate Neutrality Resolution and fully support and expand the resources and responsibilities of Dean Koyanagi, Cornell’s sustainability coordinator. At the moment, Koyanagi has a staff of one part-time employee, hardly a signal from Day Hall that past and future commitments to sustainability and carbon neutrality are more than smog and mirrors.
Mr. President, our campus is engaged and concerned and insists Cornell live up to its previous agreements. Just as importantly, we must increase our efforts, and the resolution is that commitment. Between the two campaigns, over 5,000 students are insisting you act on the side of progress and foresight. We must all swim with the new tide of ecological awareness and action, and not just tread water in Teagle.
By Jeff Purcell at Feb 5 2007

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Hi all,
Wanted to let everyone know that KyotoNOW! is having a planning session and skills training on Saturday at 1 pm in McGraw 145. Maura Cowley, the Northeast Coordinator for the Campus Climate Challenge, will be there as will all the coolest kids on campus.
Time is running out for our schools to take action on this- but students across the country are stepping up and demanding action! Come add your voice. See you at 1.

People on campus are responding to the call- check out http://cornellsun.com/node/21098.

~Katherine

“Students around the world have been at the forefront of movements to promote democracy and human rights. Student movements have toppled powerful dictatorships and military juntas. Student movements have ended wars. And student activism has often served as the conscience for nations, reminding people in times of turmoil of the founding ideals of their countries and the aspirations of all people for justice, dignity, and equality.”-Glenn Omatsu

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