In response to the White House’s release of the Third National Climate Assessment, Eastern Connecticut State University signed a commitment this week to prepare for the impact of climate change and increase the University’s resilience. Eastern’s President Elsa Núñez became the first college president in Connecticut, and one of only about 30 presidents nationwide, to become a signatory to the newly formed Alliance for Resilient Campuses.
“The Alliance for Resilient Campuses will help Eastern and other colleges and universities assess our vulnerability to climate change, implement measures to increase our resiliency, prepare our students for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, and share successful strategies for adapting to a changing climate,” said President Núñez.
The Third National Climate Assessment is yet another sobering confirmation that climate change is impacting every region of the United States. The Northeast, in particular, has experienced a 70 percent increase in precipitation during heavy storm events, the greatest increase in any region of the country. More intense storm events, flooding, droughts, heat waves and rising sea levels are already presenting significant risks to public health, roads, bridges, airports, waste water treatment plants, food production, communications systems, power plants and energy distribution.
In Connecticut, local communities, campuses and state government have been at the forefront in addressing climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In 2007, Eastern pledged to become carbon neutral by 2050 by signing the American Colleges and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. The University has reduced emissions through energy retrofits, geothermal and solar energy, a fuel cell and the construction of “LEED” buildings (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a certification from the U.S. Green Building Council).
Extreme storms and power outages over the past few years in Connecticut have increased the attention being given to resiliency and the need to adapt to an already-changing climate. By participating in the Alliance for Resilient Campuses, Eastern and other institutions around the country are dedicated to partnering with local communities to identify local risks and initiating steps to anticipate, avoid and manage disruptions.
The Alliance for Resilience Campuses was launched by Second Nature, a national nonprofit organization that works to create a healthy, just and sustainable society by transforming higher education.