GW signs onto White House pledge for climate change action

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo by Desiree Halpern | Photo Editor

The Milken Institute School of Public Health's New Hampshire Avenue building received a platinum grade in July 2015, the highest LEED-certified rating. The building is one of several LEED-certified buildings on campus, part of GW's overall sustainability efforts.

GW has signed onto the White House’s push to slow down climate change.

GW joined a White House pledge last week in support of a United Nations Climate Change Conference that will take place in Paris at the end of the month. GW joins more than 200 other universities that signed the pledge, and University President Steven Knapp was one of dozens of university administrators who attended the White House event for the pledge last week.

The pledge, which aims to show “support for strong climate action by world leaders in Paris next month,” is the second that the University has signed about climate change in the past year. In April, the Milken Institute School of Public Health was one of 30 public health and nursing schools to commit to the White House’s promise to teaching the public about the health effects of climate change.

“Once again, the nation’s universities have taken the lead by renewing their commitments to address climate change,” Knapp said in a release. “Through greener business practices, research, teaching and outreach, we are demonstrating that a collective commitment to sustainability can have a great impact on our region and the world.”

The University has placed sustainability high on its list of priorities since Knapp came to GW in 2007. Officials have created a strategic plan for the University to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2025 and the University has decreased its greenhouse gas emissions by 7 percent since 2010.

The UN has focused on climate change for years, and famously established the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 where nearly 200 countries and governments signed on to cut their greenhouse gas emissions, according to CNN. 2015 will also be the hottest year ever recorded on the planet, The Atlantic reported last week.

Fossil Free GW, a student group that has rallied administrators for two years to remove the University’s investments in the fossil fuel industry in part because they contribute to pollution, is pushing to create an advisory board of students and faculty to further convince administrators to make the decision to divest.

Eight out of GW’s 14 peer schools, including American, Georgetown and Northwestern universities, also signed the White House pledge. One GW student is going to Paris at the end of the month to attend the UN conference.

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