Friday, January 25, 2013

UCSC Cap and Trade, a Student Perspective

by Ariel Wexler, second year Environmental Studies major

A couple weekends ago, Lacey Raak, Director of Sustainability, led a workshop at this year's Sustainability Inter Organizational Retreat called "GHG Emission and Cap and Trade at UCSC." Her presentation provided students with a summary of greenhouse gases and how they are being regulated in California and at UC Santa Cruz.

I found the presentation interesting, and it prompted me to learn more. As a member of the Education and Outreach Team in the Sustainability Office, I thought this information might be of interest to our newsletter readers. Here's what I've come to learn.

There are three different scopes of greenhouse gases, the first being sources that are owned or controlled by a business, meaning direct gases. On our campus this includes our cogeneration plant, which creates both energy and heat. California's Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) commits California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, the cap is set for 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

After looking at projections on graphs of UCSC's scope 1, our gas emissions are supposed to go over this cap by 2014. This is largely due to a new cogeneration plant that the University has purchased in order to replace the old one which will soon be out of commission. If we go over these projections, the University will have to pay until they go below the threshold for a three year compliance period which could cost the University over $2 million. That's pretty shocking information.

A University committee will decide sometime by the end of the academic year what to do to prevent going over our cap. One of the options the University is considering is to explore both short term and long term biogas purchases, but no decisions have been made. Biogas, although more expensive then other types of gas, is less harmful to the environment.

Students are encouraged to get involved and share their thoughts with key decision makers.

For more questions or concerns about this feel free to contact Camille Carrillo at, the Climate Action CSI and student representative on the Chancellor's Executive Committee.

What are your thoughts on this? Share in the comments!

1 comment:

Melissa Ott said...

Check out page 5 of the UCSC PowerSave Green Campus newsletter to read another student's perspective about this workshop and cap & trade at UCSC: