Guest: Hold the university accountable, vote yes on the climate plan advisory measure

Originally Posted on Emerald Media via UWIRE

This piece reflects the views of Dylan Plummer and Matt Stephens, and not those of Emerald Media Group. It has been edited by the Emerald for grammar and style. Send your columns or submissions about our content or campus issues to

In 2010, the University of Oregon worked with students from the UO Climate Justice League to adopt its Climate Action Plan. This document, while non-binding, promised to make realistic cuts to the university’s carbon dioxide emissions, aiming to have the institution become carbon neutral by 2050. In the years since the plan’s inception, the UO’s carbon emissions have continued to increase, and many of the original ideas that were laid out in the plan have been ignored or labeled as too inconvenient to implement. The University of Oregon, despite its efforts to utilize policies such as the Climate Action Plan to brand itself as a green institution, has unequivocally failed to follow through and act on the promises it laid out in 2010.

The university’s blatant failure to act on these promises has forced the UO Climate Justice League to take matters into our own hands, just as we did in 2010. Throughout the year, the UO Climate Justice League’s CAP the Carbon campaign has worked to put pressure on the university to follow through with the promises it made to take action on climate change and to be more aggressive and thorough in the implementation of this plan. We have reached out to the student community to help educate them about the UO’s contribution to global climate change, maintained contact with the administration in an effort to find feasible ways to take steps to reduce climate emissions and have organized protests to put direct pressure on the UO to put its money where its mouth is.

Our latest effort is a referendum on the ballot in this year’s ASUO elections. This advisory measure is an essential piece of a much larger campaign and is a perfect platform to demonstrate continued student support of a climate neutral campus, and that students care about this issue and recognize the dangers of global climate change. It is an effort to hold this institution responsible to its biggest stakeholders — its students.

The state of our planet’s vital natural resources and ecosystems are dire, and countless scientific reports have shown we are overdue for radical action to begin to mitigate these impacts. The slow violence perpetuated by unseasonal droughts, flooding and other mechanisms directly related to human-caused climate change grow in magnitude every day, and are felt inordinately by marginalized communities.

This referendum gives the student body a chance to express our commitment to addressing these concerns, and to urge the university to take more aggressive action in mitigating its carbon emissions, laying out a number of mechanisms through which these changes could be made. These changes, including changing from our current liquid natural gas-powered heating infrastructure to a more efficient electric boiler system, are effective solutions to reducing our university’s contributions to climate change and to save the school money long term. It is the university’s civic responsibility to stop fueling climate change and to follow through with its commitments to its students by doing everything within its power to limit its carbon footprint.

Voting yes on this referendum is essential in a broader effort to hold the university accountable to its promises, to directly pressure the UO to take direct action to reduce its carbon emissions and to utilize the power of our student voices to demand a safe and sustainable future for us all. Please vote by logging on to Duckweb before 4 pm on April 12, going under the student menu, and selecting the voting option, lending your voice to the multitude of others calling for change and for a safer, more equitable and more sustainable future.

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