President's Task Force on Carbon Neutrality and Climate Resilience

September 24, 2019

Human-caused climate change is a scientifically validated reality that is already harming lives and livelihoods in New Jersey and around the world. The nations of the world have agreed to take actions to limit further warming, including bringing net global carbon dioxide emissions to zero in the second half of this century. Achieving these objectives requires active participation from all major institutions. Rutgers is already a national leader in the scholarly study of climate change, but as a university community, we can and must do more. It is our duty to leverage our collective expertise as scholars and educators to address the climate crisis in New Jersey and around the world, including in our own operations.

Today I am announcing the creation of the President’s Task Force on Carbon Neutrality and Climate Resilience. I am charging this task force to develop a comprehensive climate action plan for the university to consider. It will analyze greenhouse gas emissions at Rutgers University and advise the university on solutions to reduce the University’s greenhouse gas footprint that are environmentally sustainable, fiscally responsible, scalable, and engage the broader community.

I expect this task force to develop and recommend a plan for Rutgers to achieve carbon neutrality across our institution. The task force must first define carbon neutrality within the context of the university community. Then, it is tasked with outlining scenarios, timelines, and key benchmarks for achieving this goal on as rapid a timeframe as is possible.

In addition, the Task Force will examine Rutgers’ own exposure to climate change impacts. I expect it to look especially for approaches to reducing the university’s vulnerability to these impacts.

As representatives of the State University of New Jersey, this task force is also charged with engaging the broader community in its work. Scholars, students, staff, state and local government, alumni, and business partners—all these groups present insight and perspectives that can contribute to achieving the goal of carbon neutrality and enhancing Rutgers’ contribution to climate-positive economic development in New Jersey.

In developing its recommendations, this task force must give careful consideration to fiscal responsibility and to achieving our goal in a manner that balances the urgency of emissions reduction against the viability of our educational mission as a public university.  

The committee will be responsible for recommendations across the scope of greenhouse gas emissions reduction, including carbon emissions, sources of energy, institutional practices, facilities, transportation, and behavioral change. Its work will consider greenhouse gas emission reductions at all university locations.

To lead this important task force, I have appointed Professors Robert Kopp and Kevin Lyons as co-chairs. Dr. Kopp is a professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science at the School of Arts and Sciences—New Brunswick and director of the Rutgers Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. Dr. Lyons is associate professor of professional practices at Rutgers Business School–Newark and New Brunswick and an associate director of the Rutgers Energy Institute. They will work closely with Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Barbara Lee and Executive Vice President of Planning and Operations Tony Calcado to constitute the membership of the Task Force. I have requested that they report back on their preliminary findings by Spring 2020.

Robert Barchi, President