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April 17, 2007
Contact: Molly de Ramel
(401) 863-2476

President Ruth J. Simmons
An Announcement for Earth Day, 2007

Brown University President Ruth J. Simmons announced today that the University will consider and, to the extent possible following campus and Corporation discussion, will enact provisions of a report by the Energy and Environmental Advisory Committee. Among the committee’s recommendations is a 30-percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels at the University’s central heat plant by fiscal year 2008. The full text of the President’s announcement follows here.

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Since its inception on April 22, 1970, Earth Day has served as an important reminder for all citizens to renew their pledge to preserve and protect the planet for ourselves and for future generations. Recognizing that climate change will be one of the biggest challenges we face in the future, Brown has taken a number of steps in recent years to contribute to a healthier world, including increasing our energy efficiency and reducing adverse environmental impacts. To help advise the University on additional measures, we recently formed the Energy and Environmental Advisory Committee (EEAC), comprising students, faculty and staff, and charged the Committee with developing a plan of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move toward climate neutrality. Today, the Committee has released its recommendations, putting forth a bold and thoughtful plan for consideration.

The Committee has called for the University to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, meeting annual incremental reduction targets; to achieve carbon neutrality by fiscal year 2008; and, through long-term investments in these areas, to continue to be a leder among its peers in terms of energy efficiency. These recommendations will be considered and, to the extent possible, enacted following campus and Corporation discussion.

The EEAC also suggested a number of strategies to achieve these goals, and I am pleases to report that we are prepared to move forward on the following suggestion: Brown will reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of fossil fuels we burn in our central heat plant by 30 percent by fiscal year 2008, replacing this portion with natural gas, a less carbon-intensive fuel.

The Committee has recommended that we take full and immediate responsibility for our contributions to climate change in a way that promotes University leaership in this arena, development of our local community, and education of our many constituents. Of particular note is the suggestion that Brown pursue carbon offsets to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality, and to do so through an innovative program that would fund faculty and student offset projects focused on interventions in our local community. In this manner, Brown would establish an new standard for the way that carbon offsets can and should be achieved – one that stresses the personal initiative and responsibility that will be necessary for our society to respond effectively to global warming.

I am grateful for the Committee’s work in this critical area. The full EEAC recommendations [pdf] are available on the Facilities Management Web site; I encourage you to read through them, provide feedback and engage in this community effort. I look forward to the community’s and Corpoation’s review of this issue, and to responding to the Committee in the coming weeks.