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Students worry Indiana University dragging its feet to enact climate plan, IU disagrees

Students for a New Green World held a protest at Indiana University, Bloomington last week urging the university to implement its climate action plan.
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Students for a New Green World held a protest at Indiana University, Bloomington last week urging the university to implement its climate action plan.

Student climate advocates at Indiana University worry the university is lagging behind on implementing its climate action plan. The plan was approved in September but can’t move forward until the individual campuses form their own climate committees.

Soha Vora is the president of Students for a New Green World at IU Bloomington. Though IU has a plan to become carbon neutral by 2040, she said the plan itself seems ‘purposefully vague.’

“There weren't any actual, like hard deadlines to meet for accountability’s sake. All of those goals and objectives and deadlines were pushed off onto an implementation committee that hadn't been formed yet," Vora said.

Vora worries this will put the university’s overall goal out of reach. Among other things, it’s up to those individual committees to come up with a strategy to reduce emissions on their campuses and set their own deadlines.

But IU Chief Sustainability Officer Jessica Davis said all campuses will have to finalize those committees by mid-January. And she said the university has been doing a lot of work to make sure they have projects ready to go when they meet.

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Davis said IU has been researching things like federal funding for solar panels and energy efficiency, doing an inventory of its gas-powered vehicles and finding out how to build a dashboard to track the university’s progress.

“Rather than having our first meeting and looking around the room and say, ‘So what do we do now?’ We're really trying to lay a good foundation for them," she said. "So even though I understand, I empathize with folks that they want the committee yesterday. We are trying to do this in a really thoughtful, methodical way.”

Davis said IU has already sent out invitations to faculty, staff and students to serve on the Bloomington and Indianapolis climate committees. The university is waiting on those members to accept.

Rebecca is our energy and environment reporter. Contact her at rthiele@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

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Rebecca Thiele covers statewide environment and energy issues.