Commentary: HEAT takes step to reduce emissions

Last Thursday, President Joseph Aoun announced Northeastern will set a timeline to reduce our global warming pollution to zero. By signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (www.presidents climate commitment.org), President Aoun became a leader in the national movement to make university campuses “carbon neutral.” Members of the Husky Energy Action Team (HEAT) have never been so proud to be Northeastern students.

In signing the President’s Commitment, Aoun demonstrated commendable responsiveness to the will of the student body. Developing a timeline to reach carbon neutrality is the first of three student requests for climate action, endorsed by 5,000 student signatures, 26 student groups, 29 faculty members and the undergraduate Student Government Association (SGA) by a vote of 54-0.

Northeastern should continue this bold climate leadership by committing to the second and third student requests: to make all new buildings and renovations high-efficiency green buildings and to procure at least half of Northeastern’s electricity from renewable sources by 2012.

Continued decisive action on climate change will stabilize and reduce Northeastern’s long-term energy costs, attract first-rate students and faculty, encourage alumni giving and bring Northeastern positive press. Last Sunday, Northeastern’s residence hall energy-saving competition and HEAT’s petition drive were covered by The Boston Globe.

Scientists tell us we have at most a 10-year window to make substantial changes to business-as-usual, and that ultimately we need to reduce carbon emissions by 80-90 percent. The Stern report finds that procrastination will reduce annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by five to 20 percent a year. This means by the time most current NU students are hoping to be financially secure and on the road to retirement, the global economy will have collapsed.

Climate change is a huge threat to our immediate futures and we need to act now. If we do, we can create a greater level of economic opportunity and social justice in the United States and across the globe. We can build our quality of life immeasurably. Northeastern, with its focused and engaged student body, staff, faculty and administration, is poised to lead the way.

– Jennifer Wolfson is a senior at the Northeastern School of Law, and HEAT law director.

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