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Lewis & Clark reaches Kyoto Compliance!

Lewis & Clark College is the first and only Kyoto compliant school in the United States as of October 23, 2003. This achievement has been accomplished through a three year campaign by members of Students Engaged in Eco-Defense (SEED), the environmental club at Lewis & Clark. Also, without the widespread support we received from the student body, this would not have been possible. We have reached this goal through emissions reductions on campus and the purchase of offsets.

What is Kyoto?

The Kyoto protocol is an international agreement on global warming which was signed by the United States in December of 1997. The agreement stipulated a reduction to 7 percent below 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions for the US by about 2010. The treaty has been ratified by most European countries, as well as Japan. The Bush administration, however, recently withdrew the US from the treaty. President Bush argued that Kyoto would be too expensive, but we at Lewis & Clark have shown that this is not the case

Why is this important?

Climate change is a global issue that affects everyone. One of the main goals of this project is to take responsibility for the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that we, as a college, produce. Our commitement to reducing the College's impact on the earth's climate is an important demonstration in the U.S. on how individuals can find ways to learn, take action, and communicate with each other more about the problems and threats of global warming. The United States contains only 4% of the world population, but is the number one GHG polluter, with 25% of the world's emissions!

Here at Lewis & Clark, with students from around the globe, we are a microcosm of cooperation among nations. In order to make this happen, we worked together and took tangible steps, steps others can take, to reduce our impact on the climate. There are simple and easy steps that all of us can take, such as buying energy efficient appliances, turning off lights and computers when leaving a room, purchasing green power, riding a bicycle, taking public transport, or even carpooling.

How did we do it?

Kyoto compliance is the result of a long and intensive campaign. First, in order to determine where Lewis & Clark stood and how much we would need to reduce our emissions to reach the Kyoto goal, an inventory was taken in summer 2001 to determine emission levels in 1990 and 2000. Inventories have been taken in the two years following as well, creating new inventories for the previous school year. This year, after receiving $15,000 from student fees, SEED raised an extra $1,400 for offsets. Several different fundraisers were attempted. Last, to make the final step, we purchased offsets from The Climate Trust, a non-profit based in Portland, OR. More info about current projects can be found on their website.

How do we know we are the first?

We're involved in the national student climate change movement through SEAC (the Student Environmental Action Coalition), Greenpeace and Envirocitizen (the center for environmental citizenship) and are in contact with students promoting similar initiatives at other schools. Basically, we haven't heard anyone else declare Kyoto compliance yet. Tufts and Cornell have made an institutional commitment to meet Kyoto, but they haven't achieved it yet.

News Updates:

Contra for Kyoto

On Wednesday, November 19, 2003, a contra dance was held in Albany Great Hall to celebrate Lewis & Clark College's recent Kyoto compliance. Many people came, including students and members from the Portland community. The event was a wonderful time thanks to all those who came, and the band: George Penk (fiddle), Fred Nussbaum (cello), Sue Songer (piano), Erik Weberg (caller). Below are a few pictures from the event.

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Last updated: 15 Sept 2006.