The University of Maryland is accelerating its own goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by Earth Day 2025, accelerating its previous deadline by 25 years.
President Darryll Pines said Thursday the College Park campus will adopt a number of changes in the coming years to offset the institution’s carbon emissions, including buying renewable fuels, increasing the energy efficiency of buildings and purchasing carbon credits. Pines also plans to convert the institution’s fleet of about 1,000 vehicles to electric by 2035, he said.
The university’s announcement comes as U.S. President Joe Biden pledged this week to cut America’s greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, nearly doubling the nation’s previous commitment.
University of Maryland students have pressured campus officials to take stronger actions to combat climate change. Pines hopes his Earth Day announcement will demonstrate that he is just as concerned about the looming environmental crisis as they are.
“We must do more in higher education to show that we can be an example,” he said.
Prior to taking over as university president in 2020, Pines served as dean for the college of engineering where he said officials monitored climate data closely. Pines said his decision to move up the target goals was made “out of an abundance of care and caution for the earth.”
In 2015, the university published an updated Climate Action Plan, stating the university would aim for carbon neutrality by 2050. The plan was touted as a “living document” that could be updated as the university met goals.
“When we set those targets a couple of years ago at 2050, they appeared to be reasonable at that time,” Pines said. “We feel that the crisis has gotten so much worse that we need to accelerate our commitment to it.”
Pines also announced Thursday a $200 million investment in research at the state’s flagship university, which will partially fund further research related to climate science, sustainability and energy.