‘Too little, too late’: Students worried as Pitt’s climate action plan is delayed again


Pitt is again delaying the release of his climate action plan, frustrating students who want the University to take a stronger stance on climate change.

“We do not have a timetable to publish this plan because [of]again, ”said a spokesperson for the University. “This is the first time the University has written a plan of this nature, and our goal is to ensure that we are doing it right while continuing to advance a number of initiatives that are significantly contributing to achieving it. objective of carbon neutrality. “

A January report of an ad hoc committee of the board of directors said Pitt would release his climate action plan by the end of March. Pitt did not publish it at the time, and pushed the release date in late summer or early fall. The university spokesperson said that a group of stakeholders – including students, faculty, staff and board members – are currently working on the plan.

The spokesperson said stakeholders want to make sure the plan is correct before making it public. They added that although it is still being drafted, the University is still pursuing initiatives to achieve carbon neutrality.

According to the spokesperson, these initiatives include achieving Pitt’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2037, reduce energy consumption while maximizing energy efficiency in campus buildings, moving towards the use of more renewable energies in campus buildings and contributing to Pitt’s goal of get 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2037. The spokesperson said Pitt also supported shared and active commuting options, minimizing carbon-dependent travel, and educating and engaging students, faculty and staff – individually and collectively – to reduce daily greenhouse gas emissions.

But some students are not happy that Pitt is again delaying the release of the plan. Anna Bagwell, a sophomore environmental studies student, said Pitt is a great institution and that its environmental actions – or lack thereof – set an example for other universities.

“Pitt is a great university with a lot of influence, and their actions could set a precedent for other universities,” Bagwell said. “As for the fight against climate change itself, it is important to all of us because it will literally affect everyone. Rising temperatures impact water supplies, food sources, our general health, the way we move, the materials available to continue production and more.

Kelly McQueston, a major in geology and member of the Pitt Fossil Free Coalition, said publication of the plan had been postponed for too long. She said she was worried that after all this time the plan wouldn’t meet many students expectations of what it should look like. According to Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, a climate action plan typically includes goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, detailed actions to achieve an organization’s goals, resilience strategies, clean energy goals, and economic goals, and social.

“I understand if they need more time, but they’ve had so much already,” McQueston said. “And it’s really a little fishy for us. We still hope it contains a real climate action plan, but we’ll see. “

McQueston said the FFPC wants Pitt to completely divest from fossil fuels and justifies the investments it is making. She said she hopes the plan describes how Pitt will actually be a climate leader.

“We expect complete divestment from fossil fuels whether or not that happens, that’s another story,” McQueston said. “We expect to see case studies of how they think their investments are both environmentally, governmentally and socially sustainable. And we just hope that won’t be another shell tactic – we expect it won’t. “

The board of directors committee said in a January report that as of June 30, 2020, Pitt had an endowment of $ 4.3 billion, of which 5.8% was exposed to fossil fuels. Table voted in February on a gradual divestment strategy, with the objective of a total phase-out of fossil fuels by 2035 – a decision that many students thought it was too progressive. About 91% of students who voted in a referendum in 2019 said they supported full divestment.

Bagwell also said Pitt needed to divest entirely from fossil fuels and use renewable energy sources.

“Pitt needs one, to divest from fossil fuels, and two, to invest and start implementing renewable energy sources,” Bagwell said. “They have all of these signs in the residences to save water and energy by turning off the lights after you’re done in the bathroom, but they keep the building lights on all night so it’s a must. to use renewable energy sources. “

McQueston said 2037 is far too late for Pitt to be carbon neutral and he needs to do more to help the environment.

“The plan to be carbon neutral by 2037 is too small, too late,” McQueston said. “Especially if they still invest millions and millions of dollars in fossil fuels. Pitt is trying to pose as a climate leader, and they still support fossil fuels, through their investments they make a big show for their carbon neutrality, which really doesn’t mean anything if they are just buying carbon offsets. “

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