OAKLAND — California’s flagship public university system, with 270,000 students across 10 campuses, will use electricity from clean and renewable energy exclusively by 2025, the University of California Office of the President announced today.
The announcement builds on commitments from the UC system to mitigate climate change and meet its preexisting carbon neutrality goal, and positions one of the nation’s largest public university systems as a leader on sustainability.
CALPIRG Students, which mobilized thousands of students and dozens of faculty members at eight UC campuses to campaign for clean energy, praised the announcement.
“Today I’m so proud to be a UC student — proud of the university for taking this visionary action and proud of my generation for working together to push for a future powered by clean energy,” said UC San Diego student Sophie Haddad, the chairperson of CALPIRG Students. “Our generation will experience increasingly severe impacts of climate change; that’s why so many students signed on to our campaign and are supporting UC’s landmark commitment.”
In addition to committing UC campuses and medical centers to using 100 percent renewable electricity by 2025, the plan also establishes goals to reduce energy use and ensure that any major investments in buildings made after June 2019 will not include on-site fossil fuels, such as natural gas for space and water heating. UC’s new policy also allows for the limited use of renewable biomethane from sources like anaerobic digesters as a bridging strategy to for campus energy systems.
“UC’s system-wide commitment to carbon neutrality and sustainability originated from students asking the University to practice what it teaches,” said David Phillips, Associate Vice President for Energy and Sustainability for the UC system. “Our students have been great partners, and their leadership has encouraged us to take a major step by committing to buy 100% clean electricity by 2025.”
“The threat of climate change is real and immediate. This year in California wildfires may burn one million acres as global warming exacerbates natural disasters, said Nico Gist, UCLA CALPIRG Students Chair. “Continuing to burn fossil fuels will only make this precarious situation worse. That’s why for the past two years we have been working to bring 100 percent clean energy to our campuses, our cities and our state. We’re excited to keep working with the University of California moving forward.”
Across the country, the Student PIRGs and coalition partners including Environment America are working with students on more than 65 campuses in 19 states to build a national movement of universities transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy generation. Some schools, such as Boston University and Cornell University recently committed to using 100 percent renewable energy.
Bronte Payne, 100 Percent Renewable Campuses Campaign Director with Environment America said, “Today’s announcement shows that colleges and universities in California and across the country aren’t just preparing students for the future, they’re preparing their communities for the future with plans to replace dirty fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy.”
Last week, the California state Legislature passed Senate Bill 100. If Gov. Jerry Brown signs it, the bill would put the state on a path to join Hawaii as the only states to generate 100 percent of their electricity from renewable and zero-carbon sources, including solar and wind, by 2045.
CALPIRG Students leaders played their part. They brought hundreds of students to the state capitol for Lobby Days, raised the profile of SB 100 in the media, and called their legislators’ offices.
The Student PIRGs are made up of independant statewide student-directed and student-funded organizations working towards a greener, healthier, and more meaningful future.