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Carbon Neutrality by 2025

Macalester College President Rosenberg signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.  In 2009, the college Sustainability Plan adopted a carbon neutrality date of 2025 and includes the requirements of a climate action plan.

What is Carbon Neutrality?

Simple. It’s when your energy and resource usage doesn’t increase the net amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere overall. As an environmental sustainability leader, Macalester is committed to being carbon neutral by 2025 in order to lower our environmental impact.

Macalester College Benchmarks

2015:  17.5 percent reduction from 2006-2007 levels
2020:  35 percent reduction from 2006-2007 levels
2025:  52 percent reduction from 2006-2007 levels, 48 percent would be offset obtained from off-site renewable energy.

Action Points

Macalester College is approaching Carbon Neutrality from a couple different angles, each of which you can explore here:

In the 2009 Macalester College Sustainability Plan, we committed to this process for reducing greenhouse gas emissions:

Investing in Energy Efficiency

First, the college will invest in energy efficiency.  To learn more, check out the Energy Projects Page.

Transitioning to Carbon Neutral and Renewable Fuel Sources

Macalester’s electrical emissions benefit from the Minnesota Renewable Energy Standard that requires Xcel Energy to generate 30 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2020. Macalester has some limited opportunities to develop renewable sources on campus. To learn more, check out the Energy Projects Page

Offsetting the Remaining Emissions

Preliminary analysis shows that Macalester will likely need to offset or develop offsite renewable energy for 48 percent of its emissions by 2025. Well-researched and tracked “traditional” offsets or off-site renewable energy generation should be implemented after energy efficiency and on-site renewable energy options are in place.

Collaborating 

We regularly collaborate with regional, national, and international higher education and sustainability networks for inspiration, assistance, and joint endeavors. Collaboration will occur across hierarchical lines, incorporating ideas of our students, staff, faculty, alumni, parents, and community experts.

For more information, see Macalester College Sustainability Plan.

Macalester & International Sustainability

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the United Nations body that manages the international response to climate change.  The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the annual meeting where the countries that ratified the climate change convention meet to discuss how to achieve climate change goals.  In 2015, at COP21 in Paris, governments agreed to keep the increase in global temperature by the end of this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Visit UNFCCC’s website to learn more about the Paris Agreement.

At COP24 in Poland, countries are negotiating the Paris Agreement Working Programme, or the Paris rulebook.  The Paris rulebook will essentially provide guidelines on how countries track and report the implementation of their NDCs to the UNFCCC, how they will strengthen these efforts over time, and how progress is assessed.

In 2018, Macalester student Que Nguyen ‘18 is attending as an official observer from Macalester College.  The college has sent students and staff since 2014. All their blog posts are on the Sustainability Office COP blog.