Sunday, March 9, 2008

FLCC Goes Green

Our campus-wide Sustainability project is off to a great start! This week, I was proud to sign the Presidents' Climate Commitment on behalf of the members of the FLCC campus community. Several people have asked me to share my remarks at the event and also the highlights of the pledge itself. Below please find my remarks from the signing ceremony:

"T. S. Eliot once wrote: Between the idea and the reality, Between the motion and the act Falls the Shadow. … Between the conception and the creation, Between the emotion and the response Falls the Shadow Al Gore referenced T.S. Eliot two years ago to frame the pervasive state of denial and inaction that he observed on many fronts in this country regarding climate change. Since that time, as the scientific evidence pours in, it has become increasingly difficult for anyone to assert that climate change is a myth. While our earth faces an environmental crisis, many Americans have been hovering in T.S. Eliot’s “shadow” between the idea and the reality, between the emotion and the response for some time. It is fitting that this country’s colleges and universities have taken a stand to address climate change and most importantly – have gone beyond the easy rhetoric. Presidents at a wide range of institutions of higher education have joined together to take specific actions to reduce greenhouse gases on their campuses and have made a commitment to support education and research on sustainability. I am proud to join them in that commitment today. The College and Universities Presidents’ Climate Commitment is not an insignificant pledge and I do not sign it lightly. Finger Lakes Community College has a long tradition of dedication to preserving our environment, and it is appropriate that we take this next step together. It is on your behalf that I sign this document today. We must fulfill this commitment together. While there are some environmentally responsible operational changes we can make as an institution- and we will - much of the real difference will come from the day to day actions of individual members of the campus community. Today I’m asking you to stop and think about the steps you can take as an individual that will have a significant impact on the environmental mark you leave on this world. Let me take a few minutes to share with you the commitment I am making today on behalf of FLCC:Presidents signing the Commitment are pledging to eliminate their campuses’ greenhouse gas emissions over time. This involves:

  • Completing an emissions inventory

  • Within two years, setting a target date and interim milestones for becoming climate neutral.

  • Taking immediate steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by choosing from a list of short-term actions.

  • Integrating sustainability into the curriculum and making it part of the educational experience.

  • Making the action plan, inventory and progress reports publicly available.

While we've launched this new initiative with a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm with informational sessions, t-shirts, "go-green" sponsorships on television, sustainable item give-aways and identifying our individual carbon footprints, it is the next steps that will make the real difference. Now is the time for us to be conscious of the ways our individual actions impact the environment, both at school and at home. We all need to break habits and just take a moment to think before we act. We will be taking college-wide steps to act in a more environmentally responsible way and in the months ahead we'll also celebrate the creative solutions found by FLCC individuals and departments.

This week's events were just the beginning of a long-term commitment as we work to fulfil the element of our vision statement that reads, "FLCC enhances the quality of life throughout our community with a commitment to modeling and teaching environmentally sustainable practices and through active outreach as stewards of the natural beauty of the area."

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