Greenthumb began campaigning for university administration to address UK’s contribution to climate change back in 2012. As one of the Commonwealth’s larger greenhouse gas-emitting institutions, the flagship university’s commitment to reduce emissions is a major victory for Greenthumb and the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition, a network of student environmental groups at 22 campuses across the state. To reach this campaign victory, Greenthumb members collected hundreds of signatures, garnered the backing of student government, and rallied with over one-hundred students to pressure administrators into developing a climate action plan.
UK is the latest in a series of Kentucky universities to commit to greenhouse gas reductions. Students conducted a successful climate action campaign at Eastern Kentucky University in 2015. Both Northern Kentucky University and Centre College signed on to the American College and University Presidents' Climate Commitment in 2007 and the University of Louisville signed on in 2008.
In its commitment, UK states that carbon-neutrality is a long-term objective for the institution. Representatives of UK Greenthumb say they will continue pushing for increased reduction commitments in order to reach this goal.
University of Kentucky officials have pledged to reduce carbon emissions on campus by 25 percent by 2025.
The announcement by President Eli Capilouto last month credited student organizations, who have pressured the administration to do more to address climate change for several years.
“We have been building a strong model for sustainability on this campus for more than a decade,” Capilouto said. “Now, with the leadership of our students, faculty and staff — particularly the President’s Sustainability Advisory Committee — we are ready to take this next, important step forward.”
The student organization Greenthumb first started pushing the administration to do more in 2012. Greenthumb is part of the Kentucky Student Environmental Coalition, a statewide network of environmental groups at 22 campuses.
“It has been really awesome to see the hard work of past and current student members of Greenthumb pay off,” said Greenthumb coordinator Taylor Renfro. “It’s important to know that as students we have a voice. I hope that this inspires other students and student organizations to keep working towards their goals of higher standards for their university.”