Connecticut Colleges Considering Climate Change and Resilience Plans

By Bisaro, Anna | New Haven Register (New Haven, CT), April 7, 2016 | Go to article overview

Connecticut Colleges Considering Climate Change and Resilience Plans


Bisaro, Anna, New Haven Register (New Haven, CT)


HARTFORD » Colleges and universities in Connecticut are not debating whether climate change is a problem facing the world today. Rather, the primary focus is how to adapt to the changing global climate and be more resilient as institutions.

"I like the addition of resiliency. ... That's an important part of the conversation," said Robert Klee, commissioner of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Klee served as a keynote speaker for the third annual Campus Sustainability Conference held Thursday at the University of Connecticut Law School. Representatives, students and faculty from universities and colleges across the state attended to share ideas and strategies to help combat climate change with programs on campus.

As the state moves toward its goal of reducing carbon emission levels measured in 2001 by 80 percent by 2050, Klee said colleges and universities are important players in developing and implementing mitigation strategies.

"You can't wake up in 2047 and decide to be serious about it," Klee said. "Higher education communities have been a great partner (of the state)."

Southern Connecticut State University, Eastern Connecticut State University, the University of Connecticut, Wesleyan University and Middlesex Community College all have taken pledges with Second Nature to implement programs that reduce carbon emissions on campus.

They are part of a list of 600 colleges and universities around the country that have taken this pledge with the Boston-based nonprofit that works with keeping institutions of higher education accountable for those carbon-reduction commitments. Representatives from the Yale Office of Sustainability also were present at the conference Thursday. Yale has its own set of climate action plans that do not include a pledge with Second Nature.

More than 90 schools also have taken a separate resilience pledge through Second Nature, said Ruby Woodside, who oversees New England institutions for the group. The resilience pledge charges administrations with creating a task force for their campuses that also works with the larger communities of which the schools are part to create more overarching plans to design climate action plans.

While no schools present Thursday officially had taken a resilience pledge with Second Nature, there was talk among school officials about considering those pledges in the future.

"To really have something like (a task force), we need the institutional capacity to support it," said Jennifer Kleindienst of Wesleyan.

Kleindienst said that while the school has not taken an official resilience pledge through Second Nature, there are programs in place to help achieve that effort. …

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