Fight On! Fuels Off!
Please use your USC email to sign the petition.
We the undersigned believe that USC needs to reassess its 2020 Sustainability Plan with a primary focus on fossil fuel emissions. If our prestigious university is going to be a “great crucible” which fosters our “ability to change the world” then USC, as an institution must demonstrate its ability to lead in all areas. Universities should stand as beacons to progress in society, driving innovation and equipping the next generation with the tools needed to meet the global challenges that threaten our world. As it currently stands, USC’s Sustainability Plan is insufficient in meeting the goals set forth by rival institutions. We urge the USC Administration to strengthen the emissions goals established in the Plan.
The Sustainability Plan outlines its “Energy Conservation & Greenhouse Gas Mitigation” goals as a “[Reduction of] greenhouse gas emissions per square foot by 20% from 2014 levels by 2020” as well as a “[Capitalization] on energy risks and opportunities.” When compared to other universities these goals are inadequate. USC’s own “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report” from 2001 to 2009 calculates a 19% increase in CO2e (Carbon dioxide equivalent). Based on these results, using the same rate of growth, USC’s current plan would only bring emissions down to approximately 2005 levels. California Assembly Bill 32 requires that the state, including UC institutions, reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and UC Presidential Policy demands the same. In contrast, USC’s commitment is lacking.
Stanford has long been a rival to USC in a multitude of aspects. As the two most prestigious schools in California, these institutions must strive to lead the state in innovation. So far Stanford has been the clear leader in the environmental community by adhering to the Kyoto Protocol when forming its emission plans. This international treaty required emissions reductions of 20% below 1990 levels no later than 2012. By 2015, Stanford had achieved approximately 53% below 1990 levels. In comparison, the progress that USC plans to make is subpar.
There is no reason our university cannot follow suit. With one of the best engineering schools in the country, we have the resources to tackle this problem through innovative solutions, while testing the generation of future engineers this institution is creating. Increasing building heating and cooling efficiency, utilizing more natural light, reworking the Campus Cruiser and bus systems, and reducing dependency on fossil fuels for electricity are all ways of addressing this issue. Increased financial security and reduced financial risk are further reasons for rapid implementation of renewable energy generation methods. Neither students nor faculty want to see USC become a symbol of old-fashioned thinking, while the state becomes increasingly more progressive. Here is the perfect opportunity for the University of Southern California to reaffirm its commitment to the future and display a devotion to directly addressing current issues, as a quality university must.We argue that a goal of emissions reductions equaling California law should be considered a baseline when implementing new university commitments. If this institution wants to remain a “crucible,” then it must uphold ideals that are strong enough to engage the minds inside it. This is only possible if the university takes sufficiently exceptional steps to address issues in society. For that reason, USC must endeavor to equal the emission reduction efforts made by Stanford and even surpass them. This is the goal we hope to achieve.