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Penn State Creates Carbon Emissions Task Force

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Pennsylvania State University has joined the list of schools seeking to address climate change and sustainability. The university has created a task force to set a “more aggressive target” for reducing its carbon footprint.

Comprising faculty, staff, and students, the Carbon Emissions Reduction Task Force will evaluate operational strategies and recommend new ways to lower carbon emissions on Penn State’s 20 campuses. 

“Penn State is a leader in creating comprehensive solutions to mitigate the dangers of climate change. Not only do we have some of the best and brightest scientists working on these problems, but we are also committed to implementing climate-smart practices right here on our own campuses,” Penn State President Eric Barron said.

The group, which began meeting earlier this year, hopes to submit recommendations by the end of 2021.

Developing a Sustainable Future

Barron explained that the university has already cut carbon emissions by more than 35 percent over the last 15 years and is progressing toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Roughly 25 percent of the university’s electricity needs are taken care of by solar farms in Franklin County as part of a 25-year contract with European solar developer Lightsource BP. While saving millions of dollars in the coming years, the project will lower Penn State’s greenhouse gas emissions to the equivalent of removing over 12,000 fuel-burning vehicles from the road.

The task force will examine solutions related to electrical generation, thermal energy needs, and potential effects of institutional policy changes. “Our recommendations will strive to be specific, actionable, practical, and economically viable,” task force member Robert Cooper said.

Colleges Committing To Carbon Neutrality 

With the Biden administration aiming for a 50 to 52 percent reduction in US greenhouse gas emissions, several colleges have joined the fight to reduce their carbon output.

A total of 75 higher educational institutions including the University of San Francisco, University of Lynchburg, and Middlebury College have already reached carbon neutral status, absorbing or neutralizing more carbon than they emit. More are set to join them.

Beyond universities, over 300 businesses including Google, Apple, and General Electric have also joined the push to reduce global warming gases.

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