ANN ARBOR, MI — Ann Arbor is urging the University of Michigan to adopt a carbon neutrality plan.
The university currently emits over a third of greenhouse gas emissions in Ann Arbor, according to officials.
For this reason, the Office of Sustainability and Innovation believes coordinating with UM is important to ensure that the city achieves its A2Zero carbon neutrality goal by 2030, officials said.
The Ann Arbor City Council voted unanimously on April 5 to support UM’s goals of achieving carbon neutrality and encourages the school to adopt the proposed recommendations by the President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality at the school, officials said.
City Council voted to give City Administrator Tom Crawford the responsibility of coordinating with UM to further the goals of the A2Zero plan, officials said.
In 2019, University of Michigan President Dr. Mark Schlissel formed a Commission on Carbon Neutrality to recommend a series of actions and a specific goal for when and how the University of Michigan could achieve carbon neutrality, officials said.
Council members Jeff Hayner and Travis Radina mentioned that residents have questioned whether or not the recommendations go far enough in achieving carbon neutrality.
“I’ve also heard from residents about (how) this maybe doesn’t go far enough or particularly concerns around the power plant on campus and the fact that that would still be operational,” Radina said.
The responsibility of the commission was to identify a goal for the university around carbon neutrality and find actions that can support achieving this goal, Sustainability and Innovations Manager Missy Stults said. It was explicitly stated that the commission would not take on the issue of divestment or closing the central power station power plant, although it was addressed by the commission that those two issues needed to be identified by a world class institution tackling climate change, she said.
The commission’s recommendations include the following proposed goals:
- Scope 1: Commit to carbon neutrality (Inclusive of offsets) for emissions across all three campuses by 2025, and prioritize direct emission reduction by setting a goal of eliminating them across all three campuses by 2040. This includes emissions from on-campus sources like the central powerplant.
- Scope 2: The university achieve carbon neutrality for emissions associated with electricity purchased from companies such as DTE and Consumers Energy that depend on the mix of fuels used by the electricity generators across all three campuses by 2025.
- Scope 3: The university establish, by 2025, carbon neutrality goal dates for emissions that are from indirect sources such as commuting, university-sponsored travel and procurement, that are met no later than 2040.
Some of the solutions for supporting these three scopes are converting UM’s heating and cooling infrastructure to be fossil fuel-free, beginning with electrified systems centered on geo-exchange with heat recovery chiller technology, fully decarbonizing UM’s transit system, vehicle fleet (buses, trucks, and automobiles), and maintenance equipment and pursuing plant-forward food procurement and consumer diets across all three UM campuses.
At this point the recommendations have been left with Schlissel and have also been shared with the regents, said Stults. The university must make the next move, depending on if they want to formally adopt or edit the proposed recommendations from the commission, she said.
“The fact is that with respect to our achievement of A2Zero, that the University of Michigan is an indispensable partner, and that it is of absolute necessity that we work with University of Michigan closely and with enthusiasm in order to achieve our common goal,” Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor said.