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Barchi announces President's Task Force on Carbon Neutrality and Carbon Resiliency

University President Robert L. Barchi said climate change caused by humans is a scientifically validated reality. – Photo by Dustin Niles

University President Robert L. Barchi announced yesterday the creation of the President’s Task Force on Carbon Neutrality and Carbon Resilience, which has been charged with the mission of developing a comprehensive climate action plan for the University to consider. 

The task force will be co-chaired by Robert Kopp, a professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science and director of the Institute of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, and Kevin Lyons, an associate professor of professional practices at Rutgers Business School in both Newark and New Brunswick and an associate director of the Rutgers Energy Institute. 

Both chairs will announce the rest of the members of the council while working closely with Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Barbara Lee and Executive Vice President of Strategic Planning and Operations Tony Calcado, Barchi’s message to the University stated. 

The task force’s members will analyze greenhouse gas emissions at the University and advise it on solutions to reduce its greenhouse gas footprint that is environmentally sustainable, fiscally responsible, scalable and engage the broader community, according to the message.

Its preliminary findings have been requested for the Spring 2020 semester, Barchi’s message stated.

“I expect this task force to develop and recommend a plan for Rutgers to achieve carbon neutrality across our institution. The task force must first define carbon neutrality within the context of the University community. Then, it is tasked with outlining scenarios, timelines, and key benchmarks for achieving this goal on as rapid a timeframe as is possible,” according to the message. 

The task force will also examine Rutgers’ exposure to climate change impacts. Barchi said he expects the council to look especially for approaches to reducing the University’s vulnerability to these impacts.

“Human-caused climate change is a scientifically validated reality that is already harming lives and livelihoods in New Jersey and around the world. The nations of the world have agreed to take actions to limit further warming, including bringing net global carbon dioxide emissions to zero in the second half of this century. Achieving these objectives requires active participation from all major institutions,” Barchi’s message stated. 

Barchi also said that the University is a national leader in scholarly studies on climate change, and that it is Rutgers’ duty to leverage its collective expertise as scholars and educators to address the climate crisis in New Jersey and around the world, including in its own operations. 

“As representatives of the State University of New Jersey, this task force is also charged with engaging the broader community in its work. Scholars, students, staff, state and local government, alumni and business partners — all these groups present insight and perspectives that can contribute to achieving the goal of carbon neutrality and enhancing Rutgers’ contribution to climate-positive economic development in New Jersey,” according to Barchi’s message. 

The task force, in making its final recommendations, will have to give careful consideration to fiscal responsibility and to achieving our goal in a manner that balances the urgency of emissions reduction against the viability of our educational mission as a public university, the message stated. 

“The committee will be responsible for recommendations across the scope of greenhouse gas emissions reduction, including carbon emissions, sources of energy, institutional practices, facilities, transportation and behavioral change. Its work will consider greenhouse gas emission reductions at all University locations,” according to Barchi’s message. 

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