The UN’s Climate Change Conference (COP26) held in Glasgow last week raised awareness of the need to reduce greenhouse gas and global warming, but Tel Aviv University (TAU) initiated already a year ago its plan to significantly reduce such gasses on campus to create a model for carbon neutrality.
Following a comprehensive series of tests, TAU has just announced the launching of its strategic plan for significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions generated by its activities and promoting more efficient use of resources and renewable energy. The university places great importance on reducing its environmental footprint by using sustainable energy, recycling water and materials, reducing use of paper, introducing green purchasing procedures and other activities designed to reduce the campus’ carbon footprint and eventually attain carbon neutrality.
With this goal in mind, a team of academic and administrative experts appointed by TAU’s Green Campus Committee headed by TAU president Prof. Ariel Porat launched a comprehensive inspection to assess the overall carbon footprint (in terms of CO2 equivalent) and water footprint of all TAU activities both on and off campus.
The team will soon complete their mission and submit their findings to the Green Campus Committee and TAU’s senior management. “As a leading academic research and teaching institution in the fields of ecology and environmental science, committed to addressing the climate crisis, TAU established an ‘initiative for carbon neutrality’ about a year ago – the first of its kind at an Israeli university,” said Porat. “As a leading public university, it is our duty to lead the efforts for addressing the climate crisis on and beyond our campus. We hope that other institutions will join us. Time is running out and we must act immediately.”
Prof. Marcelo Sternberg of TAU’s School of Plant Sciences and Food Security at the Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, co-leader of TAU’s carbon neutrality initiative, added: “I am proud to be part of the team leading an historical move toward reducing TAU’s carbon footprint and turning it into a sustainable institution. The current climate crisis leaves no room for inaction. As a teaching and research institution, we can show the government and society the way to reducing the environmental footprint and ensuring a better world for future generations. It can be done, and we will do it.”
Lior Hazan, chairman of TAU’s Student Union, added that “the climate crisis is spreading and intensifying, causing great concern. It is no longer something occurring far away; it is happening right here and now. We, the young people, have the power to change and work for a better future, in face of the gravest crisis of the 21st century, and academia is an excellent place to begin. Students must become leading ambassadors of this cause, since they are the future of society, industry, and leadership, and to this end, we must change and introduce change for the benefit of our planet. The Student Union takes an active part in TAU’s plan to attain carbon neutrality and continues to work for the rapid reduction of environmental damage.”
Ofer Lugassi, the university’s vice president for construction & maintenance, stressed that the mapping of its carbon and water footprints was carried out by a specialized external company that made a great effort to include all activities on campus.