Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

This is a commitment, not an appeasement

The following reflects the majority opinion of the Editorial Board.

Miami University President Greg Crawford recently announced that he will sign the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitment (PCLC) on April 22, 2020.  

Our editor in chief almost fell out of her chair when she heard the news. 

The Miami Student has asked Crawford to sign the PCLC before, stressing the importance of seriously committing to improving sustainability on campus and fostering a community focused on combating climate change. 

But there’s a catch – Crawford still has to decide which parts of the PCLC he is going to sign. 

Our staff wants Crawford to sign the PCLC’s climate commitment. Of the three commitments the PCLC offers, we believe the climate commitment would provide a plan that builds off of the efforts Miami has already made to ensure a long-term, holistic overhaul of sustainability on Miami’s campus. 

The PCLC, which has already been signed by hundreds of university presidents across the United States, will commit Miami to following a “climate action plan” that is based on campus assessments and monitored by the third party organization Second Nature. 

Miami’s Sustainability Committee, the group that Crawford charged with comparing the benefits of achieving carbon neutrality through the PCLC versus an internally designed path back in January 2019, recommended that the university design a climate action plan through the PCLC. 

Crawford now has to choose between the three different commitments the PCLC offers; the climate commitment, the carbon commitment and the resilience commitment. Each plan would require the university to perform a campus assessment, create a sustainability task force, submit regular reports on deliverable progress and create a timeline for when they will complete target milestones. 

The three options differ in the area of sustainability they focus on.

The carbon commitment focuses on reducing a university’s greenhouse gas emissions so that it can eventually achieve carbon neutrality. The resilience commitment doesn’t require any hard deliverables on changing campus sustainability, but focuses on producing more environmentally-conscious students. 

The climate commitment is an integrated plan that pulls from both commitments. Signing this would mean Miami is committing to achieving carbon neutrality on campus while increasing sustainability education and research efforts. 

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The choice to sign the climate commitment over the other two seems simple but, then again, so did the decision to sign the PCLC in the first place, and look how long it took us to get there.  

The carbon commitment wouldn’t ensure the improvement of sustainability literacy, and the resilience commitment wouldn’t address the university’s ethical and moral duty to achieve carbon neutrality. 

The climate commitment would encompass all of the groundwork Miami has done toward improving campus sustainability, and would show our university administration takes seriously the fact that today’s students will live to see the catastrophic effects of climate change if nothing is done to stop it. 

Miami loves to talk about how it has reached and surpassed many of its sustainability goals, like increasing sustainability literacy on campus and reducing carbon emissions. But the PCLC’s climate commitment ensures all of that work is not only expanded upon, but that it sets goals that truly aim to make a dent in our emissions, rather than taking baby steps. 

Climate change is not a one subject issue. A carbon neutral campus is a great first step, but to really ensure our world stands a chance against climate change we have to educate our students to be environmentally conscious, and encourage them to improve sustainability efforts beyond our campus and into the corporate, nonprofit and professional worlds, generally. 

In the last year, we’ve seen climate strikes and the creation of the Student Sustainability Council, a group of students representatives from all of the student sustainability groups on campus. Miami students are serious about sustainability because we’re the ones who are going to be dealing with the consequences. 

Crawford needs to think critically about which PCLC commitment provides the best plan for Miami students, not just the one that is easiest for the university to fulfill. This is his chance to show us that he’s just as invested in our futures as we are. 

We hope he’ll make the right choice on April 22nd.