These days, Dr. Donald Boesch is driving a plug-in hybrid car that when fully charged runs the first 20 miles purely on electricity. As president of the University of Maryland Center of Environmental Science and Vice Chancellor for Environmental Sustainability for the University System of Maryland, he is leading the way in higher education’s commitment to take action on climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and becoming more resilient to climate disruptions.
The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) has joined more than 200 college and universities across the country in signing the White House Act on Climate Pledge to act now to help avoid irreversible costs to our global community’s economic prosperity and public health. The pledge emphasizes a commitment to accelerate the transition to low carbon energy on campus while enhancing sustainable and resilient practices in advance of the United Nations Climate Change meeting in Paris later this month.
“Higher education has a key role in shaping a sustainable society,” said Dr. Boesch, who has led the University System of Maryland’s Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change Initiative since 2008. “We are concerned about the increasing pace of global climate change and its impacts, and we understand that technology, science, and our greatest asset—the next generation of environmental stewards—will allow us to explore innovative solutions to lead in climate action.”
The increased focus on the role of higher education in ameliorating climate change comes at a time when the Maryland Climate Change Commission is recommending not only continuing Maryland’s commitment to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020 and to increase the goal to 40% by 2030.
UMCES also is a signatory to Second Nature’s Climate Commitment, a network of 600 colleges and universities across the country committed to eliminating net greenhouse gas emissions and to promoting the research and educational efforts in higher education to address climate change.
UMCES works every day to harness the power of science to transform the way society understands and manages the natural environment. By conducting innovative research on today’s most pressing environmental problems, including global climate change, UMCES is developing new ideas to help guide of state, region, nation, and world toward a more environmentally sustainable future. UMCES’ commitment to integrating environmentally sustainable thinking in all operations, including all aspects of future planning, is essential to its mission.
As an immediate step in fulfilling its pledge, UMCES will be dedicating ten acres on the campus of its Horn Point Laboratory in Cambridge, Md., as a solar park that generates 2 MWh of renewable energy.
“We are making a renewed commitment reach out to local communities and municipalities to make sure what we’re doing aligns with what they’re doing,” said Boesch.