To avert the worst global climate change scenarios, the beginnings of which are already being felt in Michigan, the public and the private sectors will have to come together to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. This will be an effort requiring nothing less than a complete transformation in the way energy is sourced, stored, and utilized. This revolution begins locally, with concerned citizens making their voices heard by government and major institutions.
The Ecology Center has been working to develop climate plans and clean energy solutions for governments and major institutions in the region. Our strategy for inspiring these institutions to take action is to mobilize community stakeholders to speak out. Since we began this work, many major institutions have taken significant steps towards carbon neutrality. The city of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, Ann Arbor Public Schools, the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, and Washtenaw Community College have all announced plans to drastically cut or eliminate carbon emissions. The city and county have both passed climate emergency resolutions, and U-M and WCC have adopted climate emergency plans. AAPS passed a billion bond package to retrofit all of their facilities to use renewable energy and implement a sustainability framework.
But it is one thing to declare good intentions, and another to put them into action. To reach carbon neutrality, the city of Ann Arbor will have to eliminate or offset 2.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, including 750,000 metric tons generated by U-M. The Ecology Center has been among the earliest and most vocal proponents of establishing carbon neutrality plans for the city and the university.
We are co-founders of the Ann Arbor Climate Partnership, a coalition of nonprofit organizations, government agencies, businesses, educational institutions, and individuals working to solve the climate crisis by providing education, advice, and technical support to local institutions, and by ensuring that the public holds these institutions accountable.
Ann Arbor is poised to become a regional leader in the fight against climate change. The Ecology Center continues to be involved every step of the way, lending our expertise and applying pressure as needed to ensure that local institutions pass carbon neutrality plans that are conceived and implemented properly, reflect principles of social justice and equity, and yield tangible benefits for all members of the community.