STORY BY ADAM ROGAN
Climate change has found its way into national headlines yet again. The United States and China signed a climate deal aimed at cutting back emissions for each superpower last week.
The U.S. promised to cut emissions by about 25 percent by 2025. China says they will peak its emissions in 2030 and will then cut back, while also trying to convert to renewable energies, according to the agreement.
People may fear that this could make the U.S. weaker than their Asian counterpart, but professor of environmental science David Courard-Hauri spoke to these fears and how they are being calmed.
“For a long time, the argument has been made that the United States shouldn’t do anything, because if we do, then China’s not doing anything, and so, it’ll put us at a disadvantage with respect to them,” Courard-Hauri said. “And so now, at the very least, China has demonstrated that they’re interested in eventual emissions cuts, and so that’s pretty big.”
This advancement came during a meeting of the two countries’ leaders, with President Barack Obama traveling to Beijing to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Professor Keith Summerville commented on the importance of such an occurrence, even with its drawbacks.
“The agreement with U.S. and China is progress in terms of getting the two parties together to discuss the issue and mutually acknowledge that each must play a role when dealing with carbon emissions” Summerville said. “It’s non-binding, however, and there are no enforcement clauses built into it. We rely on each partner in the agreement to follow through.”
Drake is also doing its part to fight climate change and conserve energy. Drake was among the first several hundred schools to sign the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. Through the agreement, Drake promises it will become a carbon-free institution by 2050.
Drake has already begun moving in that direction through a climate action plan.
Kaitlin Lacek, a student senator and environmental science major, tries to initiate programs she believes will make Drake more green. She is also a member of DEAL, the Drake Elemental Action League, a group that is focused on helping Drake become more environmentally friendly by raising awareness on the issue of climate change. DEAL partnered with student Senate to help become an eco-friendly campus.
“Senate has a goal called “Green Campus Initiative” where we’re just working to come up … with initiatives that … will make Drake more green and more sustainable,” Lacek said.
One way to make campus more green is to add recycling bins.
“We want to get more recycling bins on campus because there aren’t a lot,” Lacek said. “Aside from that, we want to work to get rid of plastic bags, maybe use reusable bags.”
Courard-Hauri said Drake may not be a leader in becoming a clean university, but improvements are happening.
“We have committed new buildings to being up to LEED standards,” Courard-Hauri said. “We’ve done a fair amount of energy saving. We’re composting food waste. This year, we just started an initiative where food that doesn’t get used at Sodexo gets brought to area shelters.”
Courard-Hauri also emphasized the need for a sustainability coordinator on campus.
“You need someone to be looking into (energy conservation) and how we can save energy and money, and here’s what we can do in terms of solar and other things like that,” Courard-Hauri said. “I think the position would pay for itself in terms of energy savings … and that’s been shown at multiple universities.”
In addition to fighting climate change at the campus level, Lacek tries to be eco-friendly in her personal life.
“I always try to recycle as much as I can cause that’s a small thing, but it really does go a long way if you do it every single day,” Lacek said.