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Webinar: Is Carbon Neutrality Hiding the Real Leaders in Campus Decarbonization?

September 11 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm EDT

The most important number in climate policy is zero – we need to cut emissions as quickly as possible to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Over 600 U.S. institutions have signed the American Association of University and College Presidents pledge to achieve carbon neutrality but our prior research has shown this framework has not been leading to the outcomes we need. We will present our updated analysis of 14 U.S. HEIs that have already announced achieving carbon neutrality. For Scope 1 (direct) emissions reductions, roughly 64% of claimed emissions reductions came from offsets, 30% from bioenergy and only 6% could be categorized as decarbonization. We will contrast the strategies of these HEIs with those that are leading in direct Scope 1 emissions reductions in a larger dataset of reporting HEIs (from SIMAP and AASHE STARS). We will then lead a discussion on how HEIs (and others) can refocus climate mitigation efforts towards decarbonization and actions that will help shift policy and markets at larger scales.

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Alexander Barron, Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, Smith College

Dr. Alexander Barron is an Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Policy at Smith College, where his research focuses on the design of policies to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. He has also worked in Congress, where he helped design comprehensive climate legislation, as a Deputy Associate Administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency, where he worked on standards to reduce carbon and mercury pollution, and as a Senior Counselor in the White House Office of Management and Budget, where he focused on cross-government climate and environmental regulations. He also served on the Smith College Study Group on Climate Change, Committee on Sustainability, and the District Energy Working Group. He has a B.A. in chemistry from Carleton College and a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton University.

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