WashU Must Set a Carbon Neutrality Goal

WashU Must Set a Carbon Neutrality Goal

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Petition to
Washington University in St. Louis Board of Trustees

Why this petition matters


Washington University committed to prioritizing environmental stewardship in its upcoming strategic plan.

Climate change is an increasingly tangible threat to human civilization and life. There is a clear mandate for elite colleges to take an active role in mitigating climate change. Carbon neutrality will be reached by Duke, Stanford, and Harvard among many other universities by as soon as 2024. Wash U is one of the founding bodies of the Midwest Climate Collaborative, which launched in January. The Midwest Climate Collaborative envisions a carbon-neutral, climate-resilient, interconnected Midwest Region. Loyola University of Chicago and Ohio State University, fellow members of the Midwest Climate Collaborative, have already set dates for carbon neutrality (2025 and 2040, respectively). In fact, many universities, including American, Colby, Bates, and Dickinson have already achieved carbon neutrality. At this moment, Washington University has no stated plan to reach carbon neutrality. We have a brief and immediate opportunity before the finalization of the university-wide strategic plan to build the momentum and coalition to change that fact.

WashU must pledge carbon neutrality in its upcoming Strategic Plan.

The Washington University Decarbonization Coalition (WUDC) is a collaboration of campus-wide climate leaders building lines of communication with university administration to adopt and implement the most rigorous path to carbon neutrality.

WUDC needs students to show their support for a bold strategic plan prioritizing decarbonization in university operations. A carbon neutrality goal would transition WashU away from a campus dependent on fossil fuels through direct mechanisms like renewable energy development and indirect mechanisms like waste diversion and low-carbon transportation. WashU is a leader in the St. Louis region and must decarbonize in order to protect the community in which we all study, work and live. 

See below for more information about why now is the time to mobilize for decarbonization. We have also attached our list of goals for the short, mid, and long term. Please contact decarbonize.wustl@gmail.com with questions, comments, or more information about getting involved with our movement. 



Additional Signatories:

A People's History of Washington University

Abolish Greek Life at Washington University

Asian Multicultural Council (AMC)

Asians Demanding Justice

Burning Kumquat

Closet Switch

Congress of the South 40 (CS40)


Engineers Without Borders

GlobeMed WashU

Green Action

Me Too WashU

One Health Club

River City Climate Collective

Student Environmental Council (SEC)

Student Sustainability Board (SSB)

Student Union (SU)

TERRA Magazine

Tyson Conservation Corps (TCC)

Volunteers for Education, Restoration, Development, and the Environment (VERDE)

WashU ArtSci Council

WashU Bears Care

WashU Bird Club

Washington University College Democrats

Washington University Energy Alliance

Washington University Green Ambassadors (WUGA) 

WashU NamaSlay

WashU Stand-Up Comedy Club


WashU Vegan

Department of Biology and Biomedical Sciences Student Advisory Committee (DBBS-SAC)

Energy and Environmental Law Society (EELS)

Graduate Professional Council (GPC)

Health Professional Student Leadership Council (HPSLC)

Student Bar Association (SBA)

Washington University Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (WU-COTAD)

Washington University Medical Student Government 

Washington University School of Medicine Sustainability Group

Washington University Student Occupational Therapy Association (WUSOTA)

Context & Importance

The Washington University Student Union (SU) has passed a climate neutrality bill attached here. This bill details peer institutions and the dates they have set for reaching carbon neutrality, alongside the solutions and relevant context. WUDC supports SU’s resolution and looks to build university collaboration for its implementation.

WashU’s strategic planning process will culminate in May 2022 with a decade-long directive defining the priorities and goals of the university. This plan is core to defining our impact and legacy to not only the WashU community but also the community WashU resides in. More information about the university strategic plan and its timeline, working groups, and steering committee can be found here. 

Decarbonization is the process by which WashU moves to a climate-neutral campus. Carbon neutrality is defined as: “A state of net-zero carbon dioxide emissions: emitting no more carbon emissions than sequestered or eliminated from society.” Carbon emissions are categorized in Scopes 1, 2, and 3 (defined here) and typically include other greenhouse gasses measured in their CO2 equivalent. WUDC seeks to collaboratively support the university in achieving carbon neutrality aligned with the report.



By March of 2022, we urge the university to: 

  • Commit to achieving carbon neutrality for scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2027 and for scope 3 emissions by 2035, in accordance with the SU Bill
  • Publicly support our petition expressing student support for a decarbonization goal, and confirm this goal’s inclusion in the university-wide Strategic Plan.


By the end of the Spring 2022 term, we urge the university to:

  • Open lines of communication with WUDC, SEC, and the St. Louis-based community for the implementation of the Environment, Sustainability, and Climate Change Working Group goals in the Strategic Plan.

Throughout the implementation of the Strategic Plan, we urge the university to: 

  • Support investment in renewable energy projects in areas with meaningful emissions reduction within the Midwestern grid.
  • Align University Investment strategy with its carbon neutrality goals.
  • Develop an accessible, transparent dashboard for energy operations, and emissions.
  • Commit to LEED Platinum certification for existing and new buildings.


By 2035, we urge the university to:

  • Achieve carbon neutrality and compile a report on its social, economic, and environmental impacts.
  • Continue to collaborate with student and community leaders to commit to and carry out increasingly ambitious climate stewardship solutions.
  • Beyond...






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