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College commits to national climate initiative

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Portland Community College District President Preston Pulliams has signed the American and University Presidents Climate Commitment.

The commitment underscores the group’s concern about the scale and speed of global warming and the potential for large-scale harm to health, social, economic and ecological effects. It also recognizes that global warming is largely created by humans and the need to reduce emissions of global greenhouse gases by 80-percent by mid-century at the latest to avert disaster. Already, PCC has a growing sustainability program, offering classes, conferences, recycling events and partnerships to educate the college community on how to decrease their carbon footprint. For more information, visit the Web at: http://www.pcc.edu/about/sustainability/.

Also, PCC and its partners secured a National Science Foundation grant to develop the Cascadia Regional Institute for Sustainability Education – a consortium of public and private organizations conducting strategic planning to meet changing workforce needs in landscaping, energy management, engineering, building design, construction, and maintenance.

To date, 291 presidents have signed the climate commitment. The list includes the entire University of California system (10 institutions), Arizona State University, University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill, University of Tennessee and the Los Angeles Community College District (nine institutions).

“While we understand that there might be short-term challenges associated with this effort, we believe that there will be great short-, medium-, and long-term economic, health, social and environmental benefits, including achieving energy independence for the U.S. as quickly as possible,” the agreement reads. “We believe colleges and universities must exercise leadership in their communities and throughout society by modeling ways to minimize global warming emissions and by providing the knowledge and educated graduates to achieve climate neutrality.”

The climate commitment will spur presidents to make changes at their institutions including initiating a comprehensive plan to achieve climate neutrality such as taking inventory of greenhouse gas emissions and develop a plan to reduce them. Reduction would include establishing green policies for future campus construction projects, air travel policies that offset emissions, encourage public transportation, purchase energy from renewable resources and encourage sustainability practices at companies where the institution’s endowment is invested. The college will then provide periodic progress reports and disseminate to other colleges and universities.

In October of 2006, at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) conference at Arizona State University, 12 presidents agreed to launch the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment. In early December 2006, these presidents sent a letter to nearly 400 of their peers inviting them to join the initiative. Coordination and support for the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment has been provided by AASHE, ecoAmerica and Second Nature. These three non-profit organizations collectively provide the infrastructure for the initiative, including the Web site, outreach, tracking and financial management.

For more information, visit www.presidentsclimatecommitment.org.

Portland Community College is the largest post-secondary institution in Oregon, serving approximately 88,200 full- and part-time students. For more PCC news, please visit us on the Web at www.pcc.edu/news. PCC has three comprehensive campuses, five workforce training and education centers, and 200 community locations in the Portland metropolitan area. The PCC district encompasses a 1,500-square-mile area in northwest Oregon and offers two-year degrees, one-year certificate programs, short-term training, alternative education, pre-college courses and life-long learning.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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