Campus should follow other universities, join climate commitment

Ashleigh McGuire (right) and Alaina Smith (left) lead Greenthumb’s march across campus to President Eli Capilouto’s office. Photo by Will Wright | Staff

Letter to the editor

After four years of campaigning, Greenthumb, a local environmental group on UK’s campus, finally met with UK President Eli Capilouto and other administration members on Feb. 12 to discuss committing UK to Second Nature’s climate commitment. 

This commitment would implement a timeline for UK to reach carbon neutrality by a set date while it transitions to renewable energy resources and incorporates sustainability into its core curriculum. By committing to Second Nature, UK would become a leader in sustainability. 

During the meeting, Greenthumb informed Capilouto and other administrators about the advantages of committing to this plan — as well as the disadvantages that UK faces from not having one. 

In October, UK was rated at 2.73 out of 10 on greenhouse gas emissions from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System. Five other universities in Kentucky have already signed a climate commitment, leaving UK desperately behind in the widespread movement. While UK is eager to form many short-term goals for sustainability, the meeting revealed the administration’s hesitancy to form any long-term financial commitments to sustainability.

The UK administration is not prioritizing sustainability and a cleaner future. Instead, it deems many large-scale construction plans as more important.

Greenthumb told administrators how long-term plans are exactly what UK needs, and we are firm in our belief that UK should be held accountable to its students and community for meeting or failing to adhere to the goals it sets. The transparency afforded in a commitment to a strong carbon emission reduction plan would encourage direct action and a healthy transition to a sustainable campus.

Greenthumb believes that three primary components — education, carbon neutrality and accountability — are the vital parts of a campus sustainability plan. With Mary Vosevich, vice president of Facilities Management,  agreeing to a partnership with Greenthumb, UK is one step closer to seeing green.

This letter to the editor was submitted by Greenthumb.

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