Albuquerque, NM - On Wednesday, UNM faculty, student government representatives, and student group leaders joined Environment New Mexico, the statewide citizen-based environmental advocacy organization, to celebrate a milestone of on-campus support for making UNM the next campus to commit to going 100 percent renewable by 2050.
On the heels of the UNM student senate passing a resolution in favor of the 100%-by-2050 goal, the coalition delivered 1500 petitions collected from the UNM community over the past several months to President Stokes’ office in support of this ambitious but achievable goal. Students and faculty also unveiled a ‘Renewable Energy 101’ toolkit, a series of ten factsheets detailing tools that universities can use to transition to 100 percent renewable energy, along with case studies of universities that have used these tactics.
“We’re here to make it clear that we have the power to create a more sustainable future,” said Environment New Mexico’s Erin Pang. “Fifteen hundred UNM community members have signed our petition, showing overwhelming support for UNM becoming a leader in sustainability in New Mexico.”
“We were able to introduce a resolution in support of a 100 percent renewable UNM to the ASUNM Senate in early October where it unanimously passed and signed by the ASUNM President. Since then we have received word back from the office of Governor-Elect Michelle Lujan Grisham, thanking us for writing this piece of legislation,” said Selina Montoya, the student senator who introduced the resolution.
The most recent International Panel on Climate Change report stated that the world must reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050 in order to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius, after which the effects of warming become drastically worse.
If our society fails to phase out fossil fuels and move with urgency to 100 percent renewable energy, New Mexicans can expect to face more severe and frequent drought and wildfire. Already, 50 percent of New Mexicans are living in drought conditions. “The cost of inaction will only grow, the longer we wait to commit to big goals and start working towards them,” said Pang.
“It is time for UNM to renew its commitment to carbon neutrality,” said Professor Bruce Milne, director of the UNM Sustainability Studies Program. “As a flagship institution internationally recognized for smart grid technology and earth system science, and as a good neighbor in our community, UNM can partner with others to achieve 100 percent renewable energy through cooperative arrangements that also advance energy democracy, respiratory health, and affordability.”
More than 400 universities nationwide have signed on to the Second Nature pledged to become carbon neutral or go 100 percent renewable. UNM is already a regional leader in innovation and thought, has cutting edge research capabilities, and can provide students with valuable educational opportunities by increasing renewables on campus.
"Renewably generated energy is popular, especially among young people,” said Harper Gamble, President of Environment UNM. “By pushing towards an ambitious goal of 100 percent renewable energy, UNM would be securing their future competitiveness with universities that are investing in responsible energy sources. The hastily-dropping prices of solar and wind technologies mean that a window of opportunity is opening for saving money by adopting renewable energy."