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Emerson welcomes Climate Leadership Summit

Climate - Pelton

Emerson President Lee Pelton (right) with Timothy Carter (center), president of Second Nature, and Neil Weissman, provost of Dickinson College, at the welcome reception for the Presidential Summit on Climate Leadership on September 30 in the Bordy Theater. (Photo by Dan O'Brien)

Emerson College is participating September 30-October 3 in the 2014 American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) Presidential Summit on Climate Leadership at the Revere Hotel in Boston.

The summit will bring together more than 250 college and university leaders from across the United States to focus on ways to strengthen campus climate action and sustainability initiatives, as well as higher education’s leadership role in developing strategic responses to climate and sustainability challenges in community, regional, and national contexts. Most summit participants, including Emerson College, are signatories of the ACUPCC.

On Friday, October 3, 1:00–2:30 pm, Emerson will host a presentation in the Semel Theater, in the Tufte Performance and Production Center, 10 Boylston Place, for summit attendees and the Emerson community. Al Gore Climate Leader Josef Mantl, who was a Fulbright scholar at Emerson (2006–2008), will discuss updates on climate change since the 2006 release of Davis Guggenheim’s film An Inconvenient Truth, which documents former Vice President Gore’s campaign to raise public awareness about global warming.

Mantl will be joined by two fellow Al Gore Climate Leaders: State Senator Marc Pacheco of Taunton, Massachusetts, and EcoMotion Principal Sierra Flanigan. (Seating is first come, first served; tickets will be available in the lower lobby of Tufte Production and Performance Center starting at 12:30 pm. There will be a reception with the speakers in the Semel lobby after the presentation. Refreshments will be provided.)

Convened by Second Nature, Inc., the supporting organization for the ACUPCC, the summit reflects the centrality of higher education’s role in preparing new generations to meet the challenges of climate change. The program focuses on ways to build on the success of climate action plans and sustainability initiatives on ACUPCC campuses and develop solutions to the most pressing environmental problems facing our communities.

More than 680 colleges and universities in the United States are current ACUPCC signatories, representing all 50 states; Washington, DC; and every category of public and private higher education institution. These signatories are committed to achieving carbon neutrality and represent more than 6.5 million students—one third of all college students in the nation.

Emerson College President Lee Pelton, who hosted the welcome reception September 30 on campus for summit attendees, emphasizes the College’s commitment to sustainability. “Whether it’s achieving LEED certification for facilities or phasing out bottled water on campus, we want to encourage a culture of sustainability, both on campus and off, and will continue to look for opportunities to be a leading higher education institution in creating sustainable experiences,” Pelton said.

climate reception

The welcome reception for the Presidential Summit on Climate Leadership on September 30 in the Bordy Theater. (Photo by Dan O'Brien)

“The summit is a key opportunity for ACUPCC presidents and their sustainability teams to work together to shape higher education’s critical role in advancing sustainability and addressing climate change at the national level,” said Portland State University President Wim Wiewel, Chair of the ACUPCC Steering Committee. “The launch of the National Climate Assessment this past spring has given us a clear mandate and an excellent springboard for climate action. It’s imperative for higher education to respond and help lead our society in defining and achieving a sustainable future.”

The 2014 summit was designed by a group of 30 college and university presidents with the support of a committee of seven local institutions, and is organized into five tracks: Knowledge and Solutions for a Changing Climate, Higher Education’s Climate Leadership Imperative, Creating a Campus Culture of Sustainability, Investment Strategies and Institutional Risks, and Corporate Partnerships for Climate Leadership—along with a session on the Alliance for Resilient Campuses, Second Nature’s newest initiative focused on climate resilience.

Highlights include keynote addresses by Brian Swett, chief of environment and energy for the City of Boston, and Kate Gordon, executive director of The Risky Business Project. Kathy Jacobs, director of the Center for Climate Change Adaptation Science and Solutions and former director of the U. S. National Climate Assessment, is speaking about and facilitating discussions about climate resilience throughout the event.

CO2 impact from attendee travel, meeting space, and guest accommodations is being offset through purchase by The Revere Hotel of carbon offsets from Native Energy, Inc. Summit sponsors include Xerox, Cenergistic, Altenex, and ecoAmerica.

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