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University of Michigan pledges to make its campuses carbon-neutral in climate change fight

University of Michigan pledges to make its campuses carbon-neutral in climate change fight

Electric campus bus fleets, more energy-efficient heating and cooling in campus buildings and securing all purchased electricity from renewable sources are among the actions University of Michigan officials pledged Thursday to combat global climate change, with a goal of making emissions at university campuses in Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint carbon neutral by 2040.

U-M President Mark Schlissel announced the plan at the university's board of regents meeting Thursday.

"Today's commitments place carbon neutrality at the center of U-M's mission," Schlissel said in a statement. "To fulfill our mission as a public research university, we must address the climate crisis by leading the way on our campuses and beyond."

Earth's average surface temperature has risen about 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the late 19th century, a change driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere. Earth’s global average surface temperature in 2020 tied with 2016 as the warmest year on record, according to an analysis by NASA. It made the last seven years the warmest seven on record. This, many scientists believe, is already contributing to more intense storms worldwide, more severe droughts, rising sea levels and flooding, and additional stress on vulnerable plant and animal species.

Carbon neutrality is achieved when an institution reduces its quantifiable greenhouse gas emissions — those that trap heat and warm the atmosphere — to net-zero, where what emissions it has remaining are offset by carbon removal and sequestration projects, or the purchase of carbon credits — investments in projects elsewhere that are removing carbon from the atmosphere.

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