A former executive at Shell, David Lawrence was involved in exploration, commercial development, and wind energy. The chief executive of Lawrence Energy Group, LLC, David Lawrence enjoys sharing perspectives and advice on energy and climate change issues.
Learning institutions can play a significant role in the reduction of carbon emissions. One way they can do this is by establishing a University Carbon Fund. Here’s how this works:
1. A university establishes baselines for its energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions. Many universities have a sustainability office, which already has this information broken down to department or campus level. For those without one, faculty and students can work together to establish these figures. They can even make it a term project.
2. Set goals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Have a clear cut strategy to do this. If your target is to reduce carbon emissions by 20 percent over the coming five years, have a target for each department or campus and a review calendar to assess the progress of each. Give the most attention to departments with higher carbon emissions.
3. Establish an energy-savings target and implement strategies to do so. This should complement your carbon-emissions reduction. Consider options such as solar energy, recycling, innovative building redesigning, and lower carbon-emitting travel options, such as walking or riding a bicycle.
4. Establish a price for carbon emissions, say $10-30 per ton of carbon dioxide. Start with a conservative figure before raising it progressively and aggressively. Save the funds received in a University Carbon Fund.
5. Use the funds in the carbon fund to invest in renewable energy companies or in improving the institution’s pool of renewable energy sources.