Letters to the Editor

Letter to the Editor: Climate Action Plan

To The Trail and the Board of Trustees of the University of Puget Sound, 

  The climate crisis poses an unprecedented threat to our planet, and it is our moral responsibility as global citizens to do what is within our collective power as a University to combat climate change. While the magnitude of this issue is broader than any one individual or institution could tackle on its own, it is imperative that our institution addresses the various ways in which it is currently contributing to the problem. The purpose of this letter is to express our profound dissatisfaction with the University’s current lack of climate action and call upon those with decision-making power to take immediate steps to bring our institution to a position of leadership in higher education—one that will not only establish us as responsible caretakers of the land upon which we reside but will also benefit admissions, retention, giving, and institutional status. The proposed Climate Action Plan (CAP) presents an opportunity for our University to commit to the immediate decrease and eventual elimination of its own carbon emissions through the electrification of its heating systems and fleet with minimal reliance on carbon offsets. This opportunity must not be wasted. 

  The proposed CAP is not a comprehensive solution, but it is a critical first step which will lay the groundwork for further environmental action. Our University’s mission statement claims that “we are responsible stewards of our talents, resources, and traditions.” Being responsible in the context of the climate crisis means recognizing that it is our duty as an institution to decarbonize our campus. Decarbonization can take many forms, but we ask that action begins with Scope 1 emissions, which are most easily quantified and logistically straightforward to address. The University must hold itself accountable: the student body cannot be asked to change their habits before our institution commits to addressing the emissions produced on campus. Far too many institutions have bought into the fallacy that the choices of the average individual hold the solution to this global problem. While individual decisions are undoubtedly important, they do not negate the need for institutional action.

  We understand the financial realities experienced across higher education at this time and recognize that decarbonization will require substantial resources, but we feel that climate action is a priority that the University must take on. Equally important is the equitable implementation of any commitment made; as we work to change our campus, the University must ensure that it remains accessible to all and preserves spaces for the people who need them. 

  As tuition-paying students, we will not accept a toothless commitment nor a lack of accountability. This is about more than just checking a box—it is establishing a robust foundation for meaningful, legitimate climate action at our University. We are deeply disappointed that the formal CAP approval process has been postponed yet again. In response, we ask that the University provide us with a projected climate action timeline for the coming summer and 2024-2025 academic year.

  We insist that the Board approves the CAP, the administration supports the CAP, and that, regardless of target date, action begins now.

Students for Climate Action at UPS