UCSD Puts Its Money Where Its Climate Research Is

    ON CAMPUS — The new year at UCSD has brought with it renewed
    efforts to continue the university’s aggressive attempts to conserve energy and
    further develop the campus’ reputation as a leader in reducing carbon-dioxide emissions
    and maintaining a clean, green campus.

    However, in addition to protecting the environment, the
    university’s latest efforts are giving it a head start in what is becoming an
    important global sustainability operation. UCSD’s latest endeavor in its fight
    against global warming and greenhouse gas emissions is its decision to become
    the first university on the West Coast to join the Chicago Climate Exchange, or
    CCX, North America’s only voluntary trading system to reduce greenhouse-gas
    emissions.

    With public awareness growing over the looming threats of
    pollution and climate change, the time has come for U.S. corporations and institutions
    to prioritize sustainability and emissions reduction. UCSD is making a wise
    investment by tackling this issue early and joining the climate exchange. The
    European Union has already made it mandatory for its largest institutions to
    abide by contracts regulating GHG emissions, and it’s not unlikely that the United States
    will soon follow suit.

    The CCX employs an innovative marketing approach in the
    fight against global warming. It works much like a typical market, but the
    commodities traded are fossil fuel-based greenhouse gases such as carbon
    dioxide, which is a major contributor to global warming. When a company or institution
    joins CCX, it signs a contract to reduce emissions by a fixed amount over a
    certain time period. Every year, those emissions are documented and if the
    reduction criteria has not been met, the institution is required to purchase
    credits through CCX. However, if a reduction has occurred, the institution can
    sell or bank those credits. This resembles the EU’s incredibly effective “cap
    and trade” scheme, which may also be used by the state to comply with the
    recently passed Global Warming Solutions Act, which requires California to reduce its global warming
    emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

    According to John Dilliott, UCSD Energy and Utilities
    manager, joining the climate exchange will provide the university with useful experience in a system that will
    almost certainly be adopted in California, and
    the rest of the United
    States
    , in the impending future.

    Moreover, Dilliot believes that UCSD’s involvement will also
    allow students to take an active role in the process, particularly in the field
    of environmental economics, which is predicted to become increasingly important
    in the coming years.

    UCSD is planning to lower on-campus emissions through
    various methods, notably by targeting commuter behavior, one of the biggest
    sources of GHG emissions. Currently, Transportation and Parking Services hopes
    to further reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles traveling to campus
    by negotiating with local agencies to develop a regional transit pass for UCSD,
    which would provide students, staff and faculty with unlimited access to public
    transportation throughout San
    Diego
    County
    .

    In addition to the T&PS initiatives to reduce emissions,
    several other departments on campus are working to lower greenhouse gases. The
    Facilities Management department, which works on recycling habits and
    environmentally friendly renovations, is just one example. Each of these
    efforts has contributed to sustainability and efficient energy use and
    everything done to lower emissions and save energy helps reduce the negative
    impact on the environment. All of these efforts improve the campus’ ability to
    positively influence other universities and corporations.

    “Because we’ve become much more energy efficient and
    generate most of our own power, our campus can now sell surplus greenhouse gas credits
    on an open market,” said Steven W. Relyea, UCSD Vice Chancellor of Business
    Affairs. “This not only shows our commitment to green practices and reducing
    our carbon footprint, but also our commitment to employing innovative,
    leading-edge technology.”

    UCSD has a history of identifying the problems of climate
    change, beginning long ago with Charles Keeling’s research at Scripps
    Institution of Oceanography, which confirmed the rise of atmospheric carbon
    dioxide and global warming. Now, with its reputation as a major research
    university and the power to promote awareness of these problems, UCSD has
    become a leader in identifying innovative solutions for global warming. With
    the help of CCX, UCSD’s reputation will continue to grow and the campus will gain
    the power to become an influential example for other universities and
    corporations in California
    and nationwide.

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