Chancellor Jones signs newest version of Illinois Climate Action Plan


Screenshot of Zoom

Chancellor Robert Jones speaks about the Illinois Climate Action Plan on Tuesday.

By Samantha Boyle, Managing Editor for Reporting

The newest version of the Illinois Climate Action Plan was signed and approved at the Campus Sustainability Celebration during a Zoom call on Tuesday by Chancellor Robert Jones.

This plan is developed in order to commit the University “to divest from fossil fuels, switch to clean energy sources, cut landfill waste and pursue environmental justice,” according to the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, And Environment website.

The 2020 iCAP is led by iSEE and Facilities & Services and will be the third plan that has been approved and published. Previous versions were published in 2010 and again in 2015. The ideal goal of iCAP is to achieve net-zero carbon emissions on campus as soon as possible — by 2050 at the latest.

“This newest iteration of Illinois Climate Action Plan is bold and ambitious, there’s no one who will be looking down the list of goals and will accuse the University of taking the easy path when it comes to sustainability and to climate,” Jones said at the Campus Sustainability Celebration on Tuesday.

The 2020 iCAP is organized into eight key themes: energy, transportation, land and water, zero waste, education, engagement, resilience and implementation. Each theme contains different objectives, the main three being to increase the number of trees on campus, use clean energy sources for 15% of the total campus energy demand and reduce net air travel emissions by 100% by fiscal year 2030.

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Another priority of the iCAP is to increase the visibility of sustainable practices across campus. Some of these ideas include a broadening of sustainability education for the entire curriculum, beginning with freshman student orientation, supporting programs for children to develop the love of nature and sustainability and promoting zero waste events with durable goods instead of disposables.

“We are proud of the university’s commitment to sustainability and appreciative of Chancellor Jones’s support as we continue to take action. Over the course of this year, campus and community members developed ambitious objectives, and we must work together to see them through,” iSEE Interim Director Madhu Khanna said in a news release. “The Illinois family is passionate about sustainability and resilient; each one of our efforts helps to make a difference.”

Khanna was one of the speakers at Tuesday’s event as well as F&S Executive Director Mohamed Attalla and a few student sustainability leaders. Chancellor Jones also made a few comments before signing the plan.

Jones touched on how the COVID-19 pandemic has been a reminder of how the world can change instantly overnight. As society has continued to rely on land grant universities for innovations and discoveries throughout the pandemic, Jones said he believes the University of Illinois will continue to be a point of dependance during the rebuilding period.

“I believe our society will continue to depend on us to lead the rebuilding that will come. We must be committed to creating a future for our University that ensures that we will be ready and be able to meet this need,” Jones said. “The iCAP 2020 is not just a map for a more environmental and sustainable university, I believe that it is a guide to make sure we are more resilient, adaptable and more sustainable in every single phase of our mission for decades to come.”

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