Monday, July 9, 2007

Washington College President Tipson Joins Nationwide Effort, Signs Climate Commitment Pledge

Chestertown, MD, July 9, 2007 — As part of a nationwide incentive to further the cause of environmental sustainability, Washington College President Baird Tipson has joined with leaders of more than 300 institutions of higher learning in signing the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment.

Building on the growing momentum for leadership and action on climate change, the Presidents Climate Commitment provides a framework and support for America's colleges and universities to go "climate neutral." With 319 signatories to date, it is a high-visibility effort to address global warming by garnering institutional commitments to neutralize greenhouse-gas emissions, and to accelerate the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to re-stabilize the earth's climate.

Launched in December 2006, the Commitment recognizes the unique responsibility that colleges and universities have as role models for their communities and in training the people who will develop the social, economic and technological solutions to reverse global warming.

Washington College's signing of the Commitment reflects the increasing momentum of its environmental initiatives, spearheaded by the Center for Environment & Society. Located in the historic Custom House along the Chester River, the Center supports interdisciplinary research and education, exemplary stewardship of natural and cultural resources, and the integration of ecological and social values. Ecologically minded students are active in the Student Environmental Alliance, and the College is gaining renown both regionally and nationally for its "George Goes Green" environmental-sustainability campaign.

In addition to Washington College, other Maryland schools that have signed on to the Commitment are Frostburg State University, Goucher College, Howard Community College, McDaniel College, Mount St. Mary's University and the University of Maryland, College Park.

"When Washington College was approached about participating in this Climate Commitment, we were eager to take part," Tipson said. "With campaigns such as 'George Goes Green,' the students and staff at our Center for Environment & Society had kept the campus community focused on environmentally friendly initiatives, and the Buildings and Grounds Committee of the Board of Visitors and Governors had already decided that future campus buildings would meet strict environmental standards. By banding together with colleges and universities across the country, the College becomes part of an initiative that can help direct everyone's attention to the importance of addressing the challenge of global warming."

By signing the Commitment, Tipson has pledged that Washington College will eliminate its greenhouse-gas emissions over time. This major undertaking is fivefold: 1) completing an emissions inventory; 2) within two years, setting a target date and interim milestones for becoming climate neutral; 3) taking immediate steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by choosing from a list of short-term actions; 4) integrating sustainability into the curriculum and making it part of the educational experience; and 5) making the action plan, inventory and progress reports publicly available.

"We, the undersigned presidents and chancellors of colleges and universities, are deeply concerned about the unprecedented scale and speed of global warming and its potential for large-scale, adverse health, social, economic and ecological effects," the Commitment reads. "While we understand that there might be short-term challenges associated with this effort, we believe that there will be great short-, medium- and long-term economic, health, social and environmental benefits, including achieving energy independence for the U.S. as quickly as possible."

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