Penn State conference explores reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- More than 70 Penn State staff, students and faculty members attended a conference on Penn State’s greenhouse gas emissions on Friday, April 11. Conference organizer Jonathan Brockopp said the goal was “to begin imagining a workable plan to achieve zero effective emissions by 2050.”

Brockopp, associate professor of history, is affiliated with the Rock Ethics Institute; he explained that “Penn State has an obligation toward our students and our community to model ethical leadership in a warming world.”

Keynote speakers were Rob Cooper, director of energy and engineering for the Office of Physical Plant and Steve Maruszewski, assistant vice president for Physical Plant. Participants represent a broad cross-section of the University community, including representatives from the colleges of Liberal Arts, Arts and Architecture, Earth and Mineral Sciences, Business and Engineering, Schreyer Honors College and the Dickinson School of Law, in addition to staff members and some community representatives.

Denice Wardrop, director of Penn State’s Sustainability Institute, said “Penn State is already a leader in Greenhouse Gas reduction,” pointing to the University’s plan to cut emissions 35 percent, compared with 2005 levels, by 2020. Aiming for zero effective emissions is just a continuation of that pledge.

Penn State Provost and Executive Vice President Nicholas Jones wrote, “to ultimately achieve a goal of zero emissions will require creativity, imagination, a commitment of resources, and the collective support and will of many.” He added that the administration is “committed to working with all members of the University community to respond to the challenge of climate change in a thoughtful, sensible and creative fashion.”

Penn State is the home for several renowned climate scientists and a leader in research on alternative energy. Brockopp said, “with all these great scientists, and with our University’s commitment to ethics, it is only natural that we would want to be on the cutting edge of finding solutions to this problem.”

Co-sponsors for the conference included the Sustainability Institute, the Rock Ethics Institute, and the Center for Ethics and Religious Affairs.

For more information, view #PSUGet2Zero on Twitter or go to http://sites.psu.edu/zero/.

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Last Updated April 11, 2014