Faculty/Staff signatures for MIT GHG reduction strategy sign now

I am an MIT faculty or staff member who is in support of the MIT GHG reduction commitment strategy outlined in this January 22, 2007 student letter to President Hockfield.


January 22, 2007


Dear President Hockfield,

We are writing in support to ask you to implement an MIT greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitment and a community-wide Carbon Neutral Challenge.

We believe that it is time for MIT to publicly commit to a medium-term goal of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction and adopt a long-term vision of carbon neutrality. We belong to the next generation that will inherit the legacy of global warming, and we ask you to act now. We offer several justifications for our request, and we propose a strategy that we believe achieves significant GHG reductions, addresses financial risk and drives long-term energy cost savings, while empowering and mobilizing the MIT community.

Justifications for an MIT Climate Commitment

**We are already seeing the effects of climate change. Abnormally warm weather, evidence about rapidly melting glaciers, and sea level rise suggest that global climate change is already happening. The MIT campus and City of Cambridge sit roughly 10 feet above sea level, well below predictions of sea level rise in the coming decades. This stark fact should inspire us to do our part to mitigate the effects of climate change.

**Walking the Talk: The mission of the MIT Energy Initiative includes enhancing campus operations and incorporates a Walking the Talk component. Walking the talk on energy policy and practice for the 21st century is a powerful way to communicate MIT's energy leadership to students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the general public. Inaction invites disappointment, charges of hypocrisy, and missed opportunities for MIT to demonstrate our capacity for bold and timely action.
MIT's Culture: MIT's talented community harbors a tremendous passion for working to reduce our carbon footprint. We love to crack tough problems, and would relish the opportunity to tackle one of the biggest challenges our generation faces. Establishing reduction goals will catalyze community action.

**Global Leadership: A number of universities, including Yale, Cornell, University of California, and Tufts have already made greenhouse gas reduction commitments and embarked on aggressive reduction campaigns. We want to be proud to say that our university is one of the leading institutions addressing the challenge of global warming.

**Financial: Economic risks from high-carbon intensity already exist and will continue to grow. Energy prices are volatile and appear likely to increase as global demand for energy increases. Investing in GHG reductions now will pay large dividends in reduced risk exposure to rising fossil fuel prices. Most GHG reduction approaches focus on energy efficiency and conservation, thus offering MIT significant long-term energy cost savings opportunities.

**Your own words inspire this letter:

"The power of leading by example is important to MIT and for facilitating changeWhile the Energy Initiative itself and the Energy Research Council is envisioned primarily as research and education focused, I very much hope that we will also lead by example and develop programs, adopt technologies, and innovate approaches that model sustainable energy practices on our campus."
- President Susan Hockfield, November 14, 2005


MIT Strategy for Meeting the Global Climate Challenge
We ask you to consider a two-part strategy for addressing GHG emissions: a floor-level commitment to emissions reduction and a Carbon Neutral Challenge to the MIT community.

1) Floor-level commitment to GHG emissions reductions
An MIT Greenhouse Gas Reduction Initiative White Paper, prepared by the Environmental Programs Office and the Department of Facilities, and submitted to the MIT Energy Research Council in 2006, proposed a reasonable GHG commitment of 1990 emissions by 2015 and 10\% below 1990 emissions by 2020. We support this target.

This level of commitment will place the Institute on a responsible path, one that is roughly on par with the Kyoto Protocol and the commitments of other major universities and corporations. Although this goal will require hard work, the Energy Research Council White Paper indicates that sufficient reductions can be made through energy conservation, cogeneration expansion, energy efficient new construction, and renewable power investments. Most of these efforts could be revenue-positive investments, according to the White Paper.

2) Carbon Neutral Challenge
We propose that you issue to the MIT community a Carbon Neutral Challenge, which would challenge institutional stakeholders to achieve carbon neutrality as quickly as possible. No binding dates would be set for a carbon neutral campus, but we would revisit the Challenge every five years to evaluate our progress and adjust our strategy to achieve a long-term vision of carbon neutrality.

A Carbon Neutral Challenge will help transform the MIT campus into a living laboratory for how to address one of the most important challenges of the 21st century. The Challenge would stimulate the MIT community to employ our talent, passion, and technical knowledge to far surpass the responsible floor-level commitment you have set out in the first phase of the MIT GHG strategy.

Our experience with the student-led MIT Generator (http://sustainability.mit.edu/Generator) demonstrates that students, faculty, and staff are eager to collaborate to realize energy savings on campus. The Carbon Neutral Challenge would catalyze even more exciting campus-based educational, research, and practice opportunities. Falling short of the high aspiration of carbon neutrality will be viewed as a noble effort, not as a failure. If and when we do achieve this high-level, long-term vision, it will be a momentous accomplishment setting international precedent and demonstrating MIT's brilliance, ingenuity, and global leadership.


Mechanisms for achieving GHG emissions reductions

A. Harness and Expand Existing Efforts
Both the floor goal and the challenge goal could be supported by and integrated into the Energy Initiative, the student-led MIT Generator, and a significant funding mechanism, such as an MIT Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Fund. A similar funding mechanism at Harvard, the $12 million dollar Harvard Green Campus Loan Fund has achieved a stunning 28\% return on investment (ROI) for its collective projects.

B. Dialogue-to-Action
The floor goal and the carbon neutral challenge and the mechanisms supporting both could be developed in a Town Hall dialogue process this Spring with administrators, students, faculty, and staff, and be ready to announce by Earth Day this year, April 26th.


The Vision
The combination of a pragmatic floor-level commitment and an MIT Carbon Neutral Challenge would transform MIT into a living laboratory for energy policy and action in the 21st century-a community-wide adventure into learning at the frontier of teamwork and innovation. We would be proud to belong to an institution of higher education with such dedication to the global climate change problem, and such a bold and exciting vision for addressing it.


Sincerely,

Concerned MIT Students and Student Organizations


cc: L. Rafael Reif, MIT Provost
Phillip Clay, MIT Chancellor
Sherwin Greenblatt, Interim Executive Vice President
Terry Stone, Incoming Executive Vice President
Ernest Moniz, Chair, Energy Council
Robert Armstrong, Chair, Energy Council
Leon Glicksman, Chair, Energy Council Walk the Talk Task Force
Angela Belcher, Chair, Energy Council Education Task Force
Kirk Kolenbrander, VP for Institute Affairs and Secretary of the MIT Corporation

Sincerely,

Concerned Faculty and Staff

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Francesca AliBy:
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MIT faculty and staff

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