Nate Cortas, UK Greenthumb Media Coordinator
Phone: (502)-240-8531 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY -- Students at the University of Kentucky have claimed victory in their four-year campaign for reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the university. President Eli Capilouto cited student leadership when he announced plans last week to reduce the institution’s greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent below 2010 levels by 2025. Members of the campus environmental group UK Greenthumb expressed excitement and support for this latest effort to increase campus sustainability.
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 including UK.
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.
Incoming Greenthumb co-coordinator Taylor Renfro said, “It’s been really awesome to see the hard work of past and current student members of Greenthumb pay off. 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.”
Greenthumb has played a vital role in shaping a more sustainable campus over the years. Robert Kahane was a member of Greenthumb from 2005 to 2009, during which time he says Greenthumb won a multi-year campaign for a student fee for sustainability. “Even though progress is sometimes hard, UK has almost always done the right thing when it comes to sustainability. . . . [T]his policy gives UK a huge opportunity to be innovative in finding ways to reduce GHGs,” he said. “I think Greenthumb's success is another in a long list of accomplishments.”
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.