Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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WISPIRG kicks off emission plan

The Wisconsin Student Public Interest Research Group launched an initiative to help clean up the University of Wisconsin's greenhouse gas emissions Wednesday, complete with s'mores baked in solar ovens to entice passersby.

At an informal press conference held at Library Mall, WISPIRG announced its support for the nationwide "Campus Climate Challenge," an initiative to reduce universities' emissions over the next 45 years. While speakers discussed the benefits of an energy efficient campus, WISPIRG collected signatures from students in support of the challenge.

"The Campus Climate Challenge campaign is a nationwide event working to get universities across the country to sign a pact stating their commitment to lowering green house gasses by two percent each year for the next 45 years," Casey Stewart, head of WISPIRG's Big Red Go Green campaign, said. "This would result in a 90 percent reduction by the year 2050."

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Stewart added the progressive tradition at UW should make the Climate Challenge a viable goal for the university.

"For an innovative campus such as UW-Madison, the campus climate challenge is a reasonable and attainable goal that we at the university should defiantly commit to," she said.

At the conference, UW Transportation Services Public Relations Representative Robert Kennedy, after speaking with Chancellor John Wiley and Vice Chancellor Alan Fish, assured those gathered at the event the challenge will be taken seriously by the university.

"The university is genuinely concerned about reducing emissions," Kennedy said, adding UW's history of environmental awareness, spending over $25.9 million on conservation measures for buildings in the last five years, should be a source of pride.

Kennedy also said half of UW's faculty and staff and 90 percent of students do not drive cars to work, the lowest driving rate in the Big Ten.

When asked about the administration's formal position on the Campus Climate Challenge, Kennedy admitted it is too soon to pledge support.

"We just saw the challenge about a week ago," Kennedy said in a later telephone interview. "There's probably no one who can guarantee we can get a 90 percent reduction of [carbon dioxide] and other greenhouse gasses in 45 years. It takes a while for us to gear up for these sorts of things."

Because university decisions involving gas emissions and power usage must first be approved by the state, Kennedy said changing the current practices will take time.

"We have to take any sort of plan for reductions that involves changing any power plants or infrastructure or our mix of fuels, that has to go to the state," Kennedy said. "And the Legislature has to approve that."

Yet Kennedy said reducing emissions at UW is "the right thing" to do and measures, such as using more natural gas and wind power, to further decrease them are already underway.

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