American College and University Presidents' Climate Committment

After planning sessions among a group of college and university presidents and their representatives at the AASHE conference in October 2006 at Arizona State University, 12 presidents agreed to become founding members of the ACUPCC. In early December 2006, these presidents sent a letter to nearly 400 of their peers inviting them to join the initiative.

President Jo Ann Gora was one of those 12 founding members of the Leadership Circle.

By March 31, 2007, 152 presidents and chancellors representing the spectrum of higher education had become charter signatories of the ACUPCC. Members of this group promoted the initiative among their peers, served as representatives to the press, and participated in the public launch of the ACUPCC in June. In late March, the expanded signatory group sent a packet of information to their peers at over 3,500 institutions, asking them to sign the Commitment. By September 15th, 400 institutions had joined the initiative as charter signatories.

Each school’s participation in the ACUPCC is instrumental to the success of this collective effort. Each signatory acts as a draw for more schools, which may not yet be addressing the climate crisis, to sign. For each peer institution that doesn’t sign, others use it as an excuse not to take action. The individual contribution of any school can be dwarfed by the impact that school would have as a leader in the ACUPCC, leveraging individual efforts to a serve far broader national, international, and cross-sector cooperative efforts.

Presidents signing the Commitment are pledging to eliminate their campuses’ net greenhouse gas emissions in a reasonable period of time as determined by each institution. This involves: - Setting up a mechanism (committee, task force, office, etc.) within 2 months to guide the process. - Completing an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions within 1 year, from the subsequent of the three annual start-dates: September 15, January 15, or May 15. - Creating and implementing a climate action plan (that includes a target date and interim milestones for achieving campus climate neutrality) within 2 years. - Taking 2 of 7 tangible steps specified in the commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while the more comprehensive plan is being developed. - Integrating sustainability into the curriculum and making it part of the educational experience. - Making the action plan, inventory and periodic progress reports publicly available.

For purposes of the ACUPCC, climate neutrality is defined as having no net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, to be achieved by eliminating net GHG emissions, or by minimizing GHG emissions as much as possible, and using carbon offsets or other measures to mitigate the remaining emissions.