The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday July 7th

Efficiency the right focus: UNC’s road map for climate action a good start

The University’s new Climate Action Plan shows that it is taking sustainability seriously.

This comprehensive road map is as ambitious in the long term as it is practical in the short term. It capitalizes on easy opportunities for efficiency now, while setting a target of carbon neutrality by 2050.

Climate change is a heavily politicized issue. Words like “green” and “sustainable” are thrown around because they are politically palatable.

But there is no debate about the benefits of more efficient resource consumption. Adhering to the plan will allow the University to be less wasteful and more sustainable.

The short-term goals are simple. They call for a reduction in junk mail and undeliverable mail, an increase in composting and computer efficiency and increased fuel efficiency for campus buses.

Tackling a total of 17 small problems such as these, the University hopes to reduce its carbon footprint to year 2000 levels by 2020.

Of course, achieving the long-term goals will be more difficult. They will entail significant investment in energy substitutes and new capital.

The Climate Action Plan outlines four possible scenarios for attaining carbon neutrality after 2020. One includes substituting coal with larger quantities of natural gas and biogenic coal substitute. Others entail vaporizing solid municipal waste into combustible gas and the construction of a biomass plant.

Carbon-based energy prices will invariably rise. Although this will make the cost of alternative energy sources more affordable, they are still significant investments.

But they are worthwhile and should not be tossed aside as empty promises just because they might be difficult to actualize.

The time is now for the University to begin planning for the political battles and the financial burden of greater energy efficiency and sustainability — let’s turn an ambitious proposal into a laudable reality.


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