Major University Takes Leading Step Toward Carbon Neutrality

June 23, 2017

On June 5th, American University (AU) announced a major step forward in their commitment to become a carbon neutral university by 2020. AU, like most schools across the country who have signed ACUPCC commitments, concluded that some emissions sources, such as those from commuting and air travel, could not be solved realistically, nor be eliminated outright. AU, however, was determined to find a solution that could fit their climate goals AND support high value programs like Study Abroad. This year, AU’s Office of Sustainability, released a plan to invest in an innovative carbon offset project.The project they chose is aimed at offsetting emissions generated by means of study abroad-related travel.

(Mount Kilimanjaro, south of Kenya, source: https://unsplash.com/photos/DWXR-nAbxCk)

Going along with the theme of study abroad, AU opted to invest in the Paradigm Project, a US organization focused on curbing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated by deforestation while also empowering local women and generating valuable jobs in developing countries. Paradigm’s current project focuses its efforts on the communities of Kenya. Through AU’s financial investment, Paradigm is able to finance higher efficiency wood burning stoves for Kenyan families. These efficient stoves reduce the need for firewood, freeing women from a time-consuming daily task, and significantly reduce the amount of smoke in and around each family home.

(Cook-stove heated through burning firewood, source: https://unsplash.com/photos/Dac1Yw8u3No)

Having established its Nairobi Center thirteen years ago, AU has fostered strong ties between its students and the Kenyan communities. The AU Abroad Executive Director stated that this project “…will help further strengthen these connections for AU.”

Since establishing a baseline in 2005, AU has achieved a 53% reduction in their GHG emissions and is well on their way to reaching their carbon neutrality goal by 2020. As the carbon neutrality goals set by other universities across the country loom ever closer, AU’s innovative offset solution is an energizing step forward.  

Urban Offsets creates community carbon projects in cities across the country to help Universities and Colleges offset travel related emissions. Find one near you at registry.urbanoffsets.co or let us know if we can build one in a community near you.