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CC: ‘We Are Still In’ Paris Climate Agreement

By Miriam Brown ’21

The United States may intend to pull out of the Paris Agreement in 2020, but Colorado College is saying “We Are Still In.”

In 2015, 195 countries, including the United States, came together in Paris and agreed to make strides to limit the effects of global warming, such as by reducing carbon emissions to 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. In June 2017, President Donald Trump announced his intent to withdraw from the climate deal in 2020, so American political and business leaders formed the “We Are Still In” coalition that same month to show that they would still stand by the agreement.

As part of the Economics of Change course in Block 4, Lily Weissgold ’19, vice president of outreach for the CC Student Government Association, attended the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Katowice, Poland. While there, she served as the blogger for the class, and when she returned to campus, she wrote a resolution asking CC to sign onto “We Are Still In.”

President Jill Tiefenthaler took the pledge to the Block 5 faculty meeting after the CCSGA passed a resolution in support of the commitment. The faculty unanimously approved the resolution, and now Colorado College is one of 348 colleges and universities (to date) to sign on.

“Signing onto ‘We Are Still In’ is sort of taking a stand and saying that as an institution, we believe climate change is real; we believe it’s going to affect our future students and our current students in their futures; we care, and we’re going to do everything in our institutional power to make the world a better place,” Weissgold says.

As an institution, CC has already beat the timeline of the Paris Agreement. CC made a commitment in 2008 to become carbon-neutral by 2020, so since then, CC has reduced direct emissions on campus by more than 50 percent, and overall emissions — including air travel and commuting — by 33 percent.

According to Director of the Office of Sustainability Ian Johnson, the school community can support these efforts by continuing to reduce its emissions, particularly in the areas of electrical use, heating/cooling and domestic hot water, business travel, solid waste and wastewater, and commuting.

“We know that this is a monumental challenge, which means everything we do as individuals and everything we do as a college that reduces emissions helps move the world closer to that goal,” Johnson says.