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UConn@COP23 – Bonn Climate Change Conference

Bonn

Trip Description

COP 23 is the United Nations Climate Change Conference, and will be hosted this year by the small Pacific island state, Fiji, and held in Bonn, Germany from November 6 th to November 17th, 2017. The event will bring together diplomats, business executives, heads of government and other delegates to discuss action on climate change. COP 23 will highlight the voices of countries most vulnerable to climate change, and will focus on action.

In the words of Fiji Prime Minister and Chair of COP 23, Frank Bainimarama, he will be “guiding the deliberations of almost 200 countries as [they] gather in Bonn, Germany, in November to continue to seek a more decisive response on the part of the industrial nations….And to set aside funds to enable developing countries such as Fiji to adapt to the changes to their way of life that have been caused through no fault of [their] own.”1

The University of Connecticut will be providing full funding, excluding meals other than breakfast, for a select group of undergraduate students to travel to Bonn from November 12th – November 18th to attend events associated with the conference. Airfare, housing, and city transportation will be provided. In addition, students will have the opportunity to experience the beautiful city of Bonn, Germany.

Application

The application must be completed and submitted to sarah.munro@uconn.edu by 11:59pm EST on Monday, April 3rd in order to be considered by the Selection Committee for the trip. Only complete applications will be considered. Applicants will be notified of the Committee’s decision via e-mail on Monday, August 18th. Decisions will not be released prior to then.

For more information on past UConn@COPs, click here.

1 http://www.fiji.gov.fj/Media-Center/Speeches/HON-PRIME-MINISTER-BAINIMARAMA-2017-NEW-YEAR-S-MES.aspx

First Ever Carbon-Free UConn Basketball Games!

carbon-free-certificateEvery spring, volunteers from the EcoHusky student group and EcoHouse learning community come together to raise environmental awareness at Basketball Green Game Days. By teaching fans how to recycle, and collecting bottles at the end of the game, volunteers always play an integral role in making these events “green.” This year’s Green Game Days were special because, for the very first time, the Office of Environmental Policy purchased carbon offsets to make the games carbon-free!

Carbon offsets are credits purchased that represent the reduction of an amount of carbon dioxide emissions. In cases such as powering a basketball game, where it is difficult or impossible to reduce associated emissions, a carbon offset can be purchased to fund the reduction of greenhouse gases elsewhere. This is a great tool for organizations that would like to mitigate their carbon impacts, but when it is not feasible for them to do so directly.

twitter-postWe would like to thank all of our volunteers for their time and enthusiasm. With their help, we were able to collect enough bottles to donate $40 to the Campus Sustainability Fund to support more programs and initiatives to raise environmental awareness. We would also like to thank UConn Athletics for their time and effort to promote sustainability. We greatly appreciate the P.A. announcements, video board slides, and social media posts throughout the events. We look forward to working with you at future Green Game Days!

UConn Receives Gold AASHE STARS Rating

stars_logo_3Each year, the Office of Environmental Policy submits campus sustainability data to a variety of surveys to be ranked among the most environmentally sustainable colleges and universities in the United States and even the world. Data collection for these surveys is a vigorous process that involves communication with many departments on campus and analysis of both qualitative and quantitative information. UConn and its peers utilize the AASHE Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS), an online self-assessment tool, to organize and input this data each year. From this comprehensive, peer-developed report, snapshots are submitted to surveys such as the Sierra Club’s Cool Schools and the Princeton Review Green Colleges.

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UConn ecologist Mark Urban studies the impact of climate change on biodiversity (UConn Today)

UConn has performed consistently well in the Sierra Club’s Cool Schools survey, which emphasizes climate change, divestment, and energy, and the UI GreenMetric survey, which focuses on green building and greenhouse gas emissions reduction policy. The STARS self-assessment tool is unique in that it employs the Earth Charter definition of sustainability, which encompasses nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace for future generations. As a result, this reporting tool requires that a greater breadth of data be collected.

UConn achieved a strong Gold Rating on its STARS submission. Although STARS does not publish rankings, of the 230+ schools with current STARS 2.0 ratings, UConn had the second highest score! Our university will be recognized in AASHE’s 2016 Sustainable Campus Index as a Top Performer for our Vendor Code of Conduct and commitment to research, as well as for the high-impact initiative of sending eighteen students, faculty, and staff members to the United Nations’ annual climate change summit, COP21 last December. Click here to access previous Sustainable Campus Indexes.

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A group of UConn students, faculty, and staff at the UN Conference on Climate Change

As stated on their website, “AASHE’s mission statement is to inspire and catalyze higher education to lead the global sustainability transformation.” AASHE has encouraged universities to give significance to all aspects of sustainability beyond those directly related to the environment, including ethical principles such as human rights and economic justice. This falls directly in line with UConn’s mission statement, which highlights the health and well-being of citizens through the enhancement of social, economic, cultural, and natural environments in and beyond Connecticut.

UConn Ranked Top 10 Cool School for 5th Consecutive Year

sierra-logoThe Sierra Club has just released its 10th annual Cool Schools ranking, and for the 5th consecutive year, UConn has maintained its position in the top 10! Accompanied by only one other university in this accomplishment, UConn has demonstrated incredible consistency and growth not only in environmental sustainability on campus, but in tracking and compiling data in a wide range of areas. The survey includes a variety of categories which encompass all aspects of sustainability in a university setting; UConn’s strengths included the water, waste, food, academics, innovation, planning, and purchasing sections.

Recent changes to the survey’s organization and weighting resulted in a noticeable shift in the members included in the top 10; many strong schools from previous years fell in rank, while new ones arrived. Significant weight was given to the fossil fuel divestment section, a factor that hurt many schools, including UConn. Nevertheless, our consistency can be attributed to our ability to score strongly in such a large number of sections, requiring the collective efforts of a variety of staff and faculty on campus, including Facilities Operation, Community Outreach, Dining Services, Transportation, Procurement Services, and Planning, Design and Construction.

UConn’s #9 ranking in the Sierra Club’s Cool School survey, as well as #2 position in the 2015 UI GreenMetric World Ranking and recent acceptance of the CT DEEP GreenCircle Award, all elevate the university’s visibility locally and at the international scale, while shedding light on our strong commitment to protecting our environment and creating a more sustainable campus for years to come.

UConn Ranked #1 Rural Campus and #2 Overall in UI GreenMetric World Ranking

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Overall Ranking 2015

Among 407 participating universities from 65 countries, UConn has been ranked #2 in the 2015 UI GreenMetric Ranking of World Universities, and has maintained its #1 ranking among those with rural campuses. UI GreenMetric is an annual sustainability survey focusing on a combination of indicators including setting and infrastructure, energy and climate change, waste management, water, transportation, and education. With a total score of 7,156, UConn ranked highest among its peers in energy and climate change, with strong scores in the education and setting and infrastructure categories, as well. The energy and climate change section is weighed most heavily in the ranking, as it encompasses a wide range of indicators including green building, greenhouse gas emissions reduction policy, and climate change adaptation and mitigation. It is also important to note that this was the first year that the GreenMetric survey included a carbon footprint evaluation as part of its criteria.

Nearly 50 more schools participated in 2015 than in 2014, yet UConn still succeeded in moving up in ranking from #7 to #2. This we attribute to a variety of efforts and accomplishments. As a signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (ACUPCC), recently renamed Second Nature’s Carbon Commitment, UConn made a promise to aim for carbon neutrality by 2050. Thereafter, all decisions regarding campus projects have been made with greenhouse gas emissions in mind, outlined in our Climate Action Plan. Apart from the presence of a wide range of sustainability initiatives at UConn, we attribute much of our success in the ranking to the diligence and cooperation of those involved in obtaining and compiling all of the data and information into concise, yet comprehensive, responses.