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Penn State Addresses Climate Change Following Pressure From Petition

While climate change deniers may point to the snow on the ground in an attempt to dispel the notion, Penn State has officially taken action against the threat of climate change. A petition created in December by Penn State faculty members caused enough of a stir to cause the University to address the matter

Penn State updated its five-year strategic plan to include how the University will address climate change and sustainability. The school’s Board of Trustees Committee on Governance and Long-Range planning approved the petition at their January meeting.

The petition, Care2, was created online by Peter Buckland of Penn State’s Sustainability Institute and Jonathan Brockopp, an assistant professor of History and Religious studies. The petition, which generated more than 7,000 signatures, called for Penn State to address climate change publicly. The petition challenged the University to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“It’s a huge step for this University,” Buckland said. “I would hope it means we’re going to see a transition in operational priorities and research proprieties that move from coal, oil, and gas to wind, solar, and energy conservation.”

The strategic plan states that Penn State will serve as a leader in addressing and solving the climate change crisis as well as providing renewable energy sources to help the cause. The strategic plan did not, however, address the petition’s goal of reaching zero carbon emissions.

The petition website gave an update to its supporters, stating, “The petition has had an impact! PSU’s strategic plan for 2016-2020 now includes a commitment to becoming a leader in addressing climate change and more deeply fostering sustainability.”

Care2’s work is far from complete, as the update asks for people to continue signing and sharing the petition to keep Penn State on its toes — ensuring the matter remains at the forefront of the University’s concerns. The petition was sent to President Barron, Provost Jones, and Senior Vice President of Finance and Business David Gray.

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