Defending the Environmental Strategy: On The Effectiveness of the College's Renewable Energy Plan by Luke Baumann '19

In September of 2015, President Adam Falk and the Board of Trustees announced that the College would achieve carbon neutrality by the end of 2020, first by reducing energy use and investing in renewable energy, and then by purchasing offsets to account for the remainder of our carbon footprint. Many disagree with the College’s decision to pursue carbon neutrality and not divestment, and such discussions about institutional priorities are important and productive. However, I have also heard opinions that the College is failing to achieve its carbon neutrality goals. In actuality, the College is making strong progress towards achieving its aggressive goals. Furthermore, the decisions the College has made as it pursues carbon neutrality reflect a pragmatic and innovative approach to sustainability and carbon accounting that is unique among our peer institutions.

As an intern at the Zilkha Center for Enviromental Initiatives, I have learned from the talented and devoted group of people working behind the scenes about how to implement sustainability projects at the College. I’ve also heard many express curiosity, confusion and skepticism about the College’s progress.

These sentiments are understandable because much of the work occurring involves behind-the-scenes infrastructural upgrades. In order to make the switch to renewable energy, the College needs to build a sizable renewable energy plant, which is a complex, multi-year process. I understand the skepticism surrounding the College’s efforts, but I’ve found that many concerns don’t represent the reality of how the College is addressing climate change. In this op-ed, I will explain why I have high confidence in the College’s sustainability plans and attempt to correct some misconceptions I have heard about the ongoing process. …

Read more of Luke Baumann’s ’19 Op-Ed in the Williams Record here.