The University Network
By Peter Corrigan
Two years ago, at the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, 193 member states adopted the Sustainable Development Goals—17 distinct goals designed to eradicate poverty, address climate change, and build peaceful, inclusive societies for all by 2030. With the U.S. pulling out of the Paris Agreement and the recent record-breaking hurricane damage this year, climate change and sustainability will be a hot topic this week at the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly.
In July this year, the UN issued a report noting that progress to date “is insufficient to fully meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets by 2030.” It also added a warning: “Time is therefore of the essence.” The report went on to note that in 2016, planetary warming set a record temperature of about 1.1 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial period, and the extent of global sea ice fell to the second lowest on record.
But it is not all doom and gloom. While the world is certainly heating up, so are the efforts taking place at university campuses to tackle climate change and make the world more sustainable. If you want to see the progress on reversing climate change and making the world more sustainable, look at our universities where sustainability advancements are made every day.
In this article, we highlight the key areas in which universities are leading the battle to reverse climate change—from their unwavering commitment, to the cutting-edge research that will help us win this battle.
A big part of reversing climate change is recycling. The more we recycle, the less energy is consumed in making new things that contribute directly to climate change. This is an area where universities have made dramatic changes and continue to improve upon, so much so that it would behoove local governments to learn from local universities around them how best to improve their own programs.
Here are some examples of recycling efforts made by universities:
- Making Recycling a Competitive Sport. “RecycleMania” is a green movement that started in 2001, whereby colleges compete against each other in an effort to promote recycling and waste reduction. During the competition, the participating schools report on their weekly recycling/trash volumes, and are ranked in various categories based on their recycling efforts. Since RecycleMania’s inception, millions of students from over 1,000 universities have recycled and composted roughly 730 million pounds of material, thereby preventing the release of nearly 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (equivalent to removing 7 million cars from the road for one year).