Ambitious Plan Aims for Climate Neutrality by 2050
SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga University President Thayne McCulloh has approved Gonzaga’s first comprehensive Climate Action Plan, which aims for Gonzaga to achieve climate neutrality – zero emissions – by 2050, said Brian G. Henning, associate professor of philosophy and co-chair of Gonzaga’s Advisory Council on Stewardship and Sustainability.
Gonzaga will work to achieve this goal by reducing emissions, from 2009 baseline levels, 20 percent by 2020 and 50 percent by 2035, according to the plan.
“Care for the planet is an important emphasis for the Church and the Jesuits; thus, Gonzaga’s mission calls us individually and collectively to be good stewards of the Earth’s resources,” President McCulloh said. “This Climate Action Plan provides a road map for carrying out our commitment to sustainability. While it is ambitious, I have every confidence that the Gonzaga community will respond to the challenges it presents, given the importance of what is at stake. I am grateful to all those involved in developing this plan.”
These goals will be advanced through education, research, student-development programs, and operational change – including improvements in construction practices, and knowledge-sharing. Ideas include a revolving fund that continually funds itself from savings achieved through energy efficiencies, a universitywide fleet vehicle policy to reduce emissions, and an effort to encourage employees to live closer to campus.
The plan also aims to broaden sustainability education across the curriculum and in co-curricular programs. For example, Gonzaga is actively seeking to create a Sustainable Business Concentration within the School of Business Administration. In co-curricular activities, the Climate Action Plan envisions a “Green Fund” to support student-generated sustainability initiatives.
“Sustainability and care for the environment are vital questions for our time and so appropriately addressed through curricular and co-curricular avenues. It is particularly fitting for Gonzaga as a Jesuit university to take up these issues,” said Gonzaga Academic Vice President Patricia O’Connell Killen. “The sustainability across the curriculum faculty learning community and initiatives like the envisioned ‘Green Fund’ are two steps through which the faculty, staff and students take up these questions not as ‘add-ons’ but as an integral part of whatever they study and however they envision their lives for today and into the future.”
Work on the CAP began shortly after President McCulloh signed the Presidents’ Climate Commitment in fall 2010. Gonzaga’s Advisory Council on Stewardship and Sustainability was charged with making appropriate recommendations to implement the President’s Climate Commitment. The ACSS Steering Committee invited faculty, staff, and students Universitywide to help develop the Climate Action Plan. Over the course of two years, more than 148 GU community members participated, including 42 faculty, 27 staff and administrators, and 79 students.
The full “Gonzaga University Climate Action Plan: 2013-2035 Roadmap” can be found online at Gonzaga’s sustainability website. An executive summary, text of the Climate Commitment, and an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions also are available on the site.