Newsroom

University of California, Berkeley, leads the way on climate with a commitment for 100 percent clean energy by 2050

UC Berkeley becomes biggest American university to fully commit to clean energy
For Immediate Release

For More Information:
Patrick Jurney, CALPIRG Students Campus Organizer, 719-217-8439, pjurney@calpirgstudents.org
Elizabeth Nickerson, UC Berkeley Chapter Chair, 209-262-7692, enickerson@berkeley.edu
Bronte Payne, Environment America Campaign Director, 617-747-4327, bronte@environmentamerica.org

BERKELEY, Calif. -- University of California, Berkeley, Chancellor Carol Christ signed a memorandum of understanding last week committing the Berkeley campus to 100 percent clean, renewable energy by 2050. The University of California system already made a pledge to purchase only clean electricity by 2025, but this commitment goes further, covering uses like energy production, transportation, and heating, which currently comes primarily from natural gas.

“UC Berkeley has always been a leader in higher education and I am thrilled to see this leadership continue when it comes to tackling climate change by transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy,” said Elizabeth Nickerson, a junior at UC Berkeley, who is also CALPIRG Chapter Chair and 100% Clean Energy Campaign Coordinator. “Here in California, we experience the effects of climate change every day, which is why more than 3,000 students and 45 student organizations stood with us to show support for clean, renewable energy.”

The wide-ranging nature of this commitment positions UC Berkeley as a public university leader on sustainability. Other institutions like Cornell University and Brown University have also made clean energy commitments, but no other public university UC Berkeley’s size has made a similar obligation. The victory is reflective of the work Student PIRGs and coalition partners, including Environment America, are doing nationwide with students on more than 50 campuses in 15 states.

"As is the case with so many of our most important initiatives, this critical step would not have been possible absent strong, passionate student leadership,” said UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ. “That, together with our commitment to the greater good is what makes Berkeley, Berkeley.”

CALPIRG Students spent two years working on securing this clean energy commitment from UC Berkeley officials. Efforts included collecting more than 3,000 petition signatures for clean energy, securing the support of 45 student group and faculty sign-ons, and passing an ASUC Student Government resolution on the issue.

“This student led commitment resonates with Berkeley's approach to climate action leadership,” offered UC Berkeley's Director of Sustainability Kira Stoll. “It provides a clean energy vision for the future, challenging but quantifiable goals, and a path to better planning and implementation. I am looking forward to our continuing partnership and to bringing this commitment to reality.”

“The students at the University of California, Berkeley, have provided a shining example of how to build and demonstrate support for renewable energy on campus,” said Bronte Payne, Environment America Research & Policy Center’s 100% Renewable Campuses Campaign Director. “They’ve done a fantastic job, engaging administrators and working with them to achieve a commitment to transition off fossil fuels. We now need other colleges and universities to partner with their students, faculty and staff to do the same.”

CALPIRG’s Campaign for 100% Clean Energy at UC Berkeley follows its successful organizing efforts to pass SB100, a landmark piece of legislation in which the state committed to 100 percent clean electricity by 2045. CALPIRG Students brought hundreds of students to the capitol to lobby on this bill, and collected 20,000 petitions for the commitment as well.

“Young people have the most to lose and the most to gain depending on how our future pans out,” said UC Berkeley Student Peyton White, the 100% Clean Energy Campaign Coordinator for CALPIRG students at UC Berkeley. “This campaign at Cal has demonstrated that young people overwhelmingly want to see our institutions tackling climate change -- and I hope this Cal commitment will impact larger policy change across the state and country.”

For more information about the campaign to shift America’s colleges and universities to 100 percent renewable energy: https://www.go100renewablecampus.org/ or https://calpirgstudents.org/

###

CALPIRG Students is a statewide student-directed and student-funded organization at eight UC campuses working towards a greener, healthier, and more meaningful future.