California’s flagship public university system, with 238,000 students across 10 campuses, will run completely on electricity from clean, renewable energy by 2025, the University of California Office of the President announced today. The announcement, a first from one of the nation’s largest public university systems, builds on commitments from the UC system to mitigate climate change and meet carbon neutrality goals.
“The University of California system just passed its clean energy exam with flying colors,” said Bronte Payne, 100 Percent Renewable Campuses Campaign Director with Environment America. “Today’s announcement shows that colleges and universities in California and across the country aren’t just preparing students for the future, they’re preparing their communities for the future with plans to replace dirty fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy.”
In addition to committing UC campuses and medical centers to using 100 percent renewable electricity by 2025, the plan also establishes goals to reduce energy use, and a pledge not to use natural gas for heat and hot water in any new buildings or major renovations, starting in June of 2019.
“UC’s system-wide commitment to carbon neutrality and sustainability originated from students asking the University to practice what it teaches,” said David Phillips, Associate Vice President for Energy and Sustainability for the UC system. “Our students have been great partners, and their leadership has encouraged us to take a major step by committing to buy 100 percent clean electricity by 2025.”
The organization CALPIRG Students, which mobilized thousands of UC students and dozens of faculty members to support clean energy on eight campuses, praised the announcement.
“Today I’m so proud to be a UC student — proud of the university for taking this visionary action and proud of my generation for working together to push for a future powered by clean energy,” said UC San Diego student Sophie Haddad, the chairperson of CALPIRG students. “Our generation will experience increasingly severe impacts of climate change; that’s why thousands of students signed on to our campaign and are supporting UC’s landmark commitment.”
Across the country, Environment America and the Student PIRGs are working with students on more than 65 campuses in 19 states to show broad support for 100 percent renewable energy generation. In February, the groups jointly released a letter urging the U.S. higher education community to lead a shift to renewable energy. Recently, schools such as Boston University and Cornell University and Colorado State have committed to 100 percent renewable energy use.
Last week, the California state Legislature passed Senate Bill 100. If Gov. Jerry Brown signs it, the bill would put the state on a path to generate 100 percent of its electricity from renewable and zero-carbon sources, including solar and wind, by 2045.
“For our climate, our children and our health, California needs to shift completely to renewable energy,” said Dan Jacobson, state director of Environment California. “Today’s commitment from the University of California system shows the state’s major institutions are sitting at the front of the class — ready and willing to help lead the way.”