The George Washington University is one of 230 to sign climate pledge.
By James Irwin
George Washington University President Steven Knapp attended a roundtable discussion Thursday at the White House as part of an ongoing effort to address climate change on college campuses.
Dr. Knapp and Meghan Chapple, director of the GW’s Office of Sustainability, represented the university at the event, which brought together academic leaders from more than a dozen colleges and universities that have signed an American Campuses on Climate pledge to demonstrate their support for strong climate action by world leaders at next month’s United Nations Climate Change Conference. GW is one of 218 colleges and universities to sign the pledge.
“Once again, the nation’s universities have taken the lead by renewing their commitments to address climate change,” Dr. Knapp said in a statement released by the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, which he chairs. “Through greener business practices, research, teaching and outreach, we are demonstrating that a collective commitment to sustainability can have a great impact on our region and the world.”
The White House event Thursday, attended by students and non-governmental organization leaders—including Columbian College of Arts and Sciences senior Eleanor Davis—featured Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and the White House Council on Environmental Quality Managing Director Christy Goldfuss. Ms. McCarthy encouraged participating universities to continue engaging students and building momentum to address climate change in their communities and on their campuses.
The U.N. conference begins Nov. 30 in Paris.
GW has taken several large steps in recent years to address climate change. The university’s 2010 climate action plan outlines details to reduce GW’s carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2025 and erase its carbon footprint by 2040. More than 50 percent of the university’s electricity will come from renewable energy starting in January thanks to the Capital Partners Solar Project, a renewable energy collaboration that GW, George Washington University Hospital and American University contracted with Duke Energy Renewables.
The University supports student efforts through extracurricular programs, including the GW Eco-Equity Challenge, the DC Climathon and Planet Forward. Last June, GW hosted the GreenGov Symposium and brought together top minds to discuss sustainable strategies for the federal government.
Dr. Knapp and Ms. Chapple also attended and spoke at the 2014 Presidential Summit on Climate Leadership in Boston, attended by hundreds of higher education sustainability leaders, including college and university presidents.