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How a task force and committee combined to create Miami’s ‘2040: Climate Action Plan’

The Miami University Climate Action Task Force and the Sustainability Committee combined for the 2023-2024 academic year to form the Climate Action and Sustainability Council with the goal of writing the university’s plan for carbon neutrality.

The “Miami 2040: Climate Action Plan for Miami University,” outlines goals and actions necessary for the university to reach carbon neutrality by 2040. The plan was created from the recommendations of Miami’s Climate Action Task Force, which was formed after President Greg Crawford signed the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments (PCLC) — Climate Commitment in September 2020. By signing this commitment, Miami pledged to create a plan within three years for how the university will reach carbon neutrality. 

The task force would have disbanded at the end of the academic year after it completed its task of writing the plan; however, the plan still has to be approved by other organizations and may undergo several rewrites where the task force’s insight will be crucial. Therefore, the task force has combined with the university’s Sustainability Committee.

“There's still many steps to go for approval, and there's probably going to be rewrites, and so we will be going back to the Climate Action Task Force for that,” said Johnathan Levy, co-chair of the Climate Action Task Force and the Sustainability Committee.

Susan Meikle, another co-chair of the council, said one of the reasons the university has started to focus on sustainability was due to a protest by students, faculty and community members in September 2019 on the National Day of Climate Action. At the time, many other schools were committing to the PCLC, and Miami had not yet. 

“It was just pushing the administration to make a commitment to sign this,” Meikle said.

When Crawford was hired in 2016, he assigned the Sustainability Committee to look into plans for carbon neutrality. 

The City of Oxford created a climate action plan as well, said Reena Murphy, Oxford’s Sustainability Coordinator. She said that the city and the university have been in frequent communication about their plans. She sits on the university’s committee, while Olivia Herron, director of sustainability for Miami, sits on the city’s committee.

Venus Harvey, a senior political science major, is the only undergraduate student on Oxford’s Climate Action Task Force. She believes the climate action plan is very important. 

“Even if [climate change is] not harming us a ton right now, it's going to,” Harvey said. “It's important for both Miami and the City of Oxford to play our part and our role in preserving the earth and doing what we can to have a tomorrow.”

She emphasized that students should utilize the Oscar Sort smart waste stations in Armstrong to combat the issue of climate change because Miami students are “notoriously bad at recycling compared to other schools.”

The Climate Action Plan has been submitted to Crawford for approval. Once approved by Crawford, it will be submitted to the Board of Trustees in December, who will give feedback on the first draft. A second draft will be written with hopes for approval at the Board of Trustees' February meeting.

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