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Provost, Professor Appointed to President’s Environmental Council

August 4, 2014

UC Merced Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Tom Peterson and founding faculty member Professor Roger Bales have been named members of UC President Janet Napolitano’s new Global Climate Leadership Council.

The council has been convened to guide UC sustainability efforts, with the goal of bringing the university’s operations to carbon neutrality by 2025.

Sustainability is a part of the DNA of the UC Merced campus – it’s one of the greenest campuses in the nation, and the only one in the country to have all of its buildings LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Nominated by Chancellor Dorothy Leland, Bales, a hydrologist, leads the Sierra Nevada Research Institute and Peterson’s leadership is critical to the continued responsible growth of the UC’s newest university. Bales is one of four UC faculty members on the new council.

“I am honored to be able to contribute to this critical systemwide effort that addresses what is perhaps the greatest challenge facing the global community – reducing human-caused global warming and laying the foundation to reverse warming trends already well underway,” Bales said. “I share the president’s goals, including making UC a leader in achieving sustainability and making deep cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions, and I am eager to contribute my engineering and climate knowledge to help UC achieve its 2025 goal of carbon neutrality on campuses.”

Napolitano suggested finding ways to pair UC’s successes in sustainable operations with the groundbreaking research performed at each campus to reduce carbon emissions.

“Our campus is committed to developing new ways of harnessing renewable energy and deploying that technology on campus, creating a true living laboratory where research and practices meet,” Peterson said. “As we continue to grow, we’re looking for ways to further our environmental stewardship."

Carbon neutrality — reducing net greenhouse gas emissions to zero — is a goal in UC’s sustainable practices policy, enacted in 2003, and is part of UC Merced’s Triple Zero pledge.

Napolitano expanded on the policy last fall by setting a 2025 target date.

The council is co-chaired by Nathan Brostrom, UC’s executive vice president for business operations, and Wendell Brase, UC Irvine’s vice chancellor for administration. Council members include UC officials, students and outside experts.

The Global Climate Leadership Council began meeting this summer, and heard from Napolitano about her vision for the university’s future sustainability work and the role the council will play.

Napolitano called on the council to find ways to engage faculty, staff and students to help the university reach its sustainability goals and set an example.

“It is essential to our stewardship of the environment and to what we hand off to the next generation,” Napolitano said. “If we don’t do it, who will?”

The council committed to meeting three times each year at different UC campuses. Members will focus on carbon neutrality, but will also offer guidance on UC’s other sustainability goals.