With the stroke of a pen, Oberlin took a leadership role in environmental stewardship last month when President Nancy Dye established Oberlin as one of the nation’s first institutions of higher education to accept the goal of climate neutrality by signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC).

As a charter signatory, Oberlin becomes one of four schools in the United States and the first in its peer group to sign the ACUPCC, developed to address what is considered by many to be the defining challenge of our century.

As a first signer, Dye also has opted to become a member of ACUPCC’s Presidents Leadership Group, a cadre of 10 to 20 presidents and chancellors representing institutions currently at the forefront of sustainability in higher education pledging to build support among college and university administrations across America.

Other members currently include Duke University, University of Florida, and College of the Atlantic. The Presidents Commitment project has set as its goal the participation pledge of at least 200 college and university presidents by June 2007.

The commitment document lists the actions needed to achieve climate neutrality, a number of which Oberlin College has already taken, such as the completion of a comprehensive greenhouse gas inventory in 2002 and an agreement with Oberlin Municipal Light and Power in 2004 to purchase approximately 50 percent of its electricity from green energy sources.

David Orr, Paul Sears Professor of Environmental Studies at Oberlin, pointed out the colleges and universities "are in a powerful position to lead on this issue. In addition to educating our students, faculty, and administrators, we can influence changes far beyond."

"We now know that human survival depends on achieving a rapid worldwide transition from fossil fuels to an era of energy efficiency and solar energy. Oberlin College has a unique opportunity to play a leading role in developing a model of climate neutrality and equip a generation of students for the great work ahead."

Published: December 15, 2006