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UNC, town team up on green push

Duke's rivalry with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill could be moving to the environmental front.

A report released last month by the North Carolina Sierra Club details the efforts of 24 "Cool Cities" across the state to combat global warming. Each of the communities signed the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, a commitment to reduce their 1990 greenhouse gas emission levels seven percent by the year 2012.

The publication praised the work of the Chapel Hill community in working to solve global warming through collaboration with the university and the university community.

Doug Crawford-Brown, director of the UNC Institute for the Environment, said town-gown cooperation is typical of UNC students. He added that students are currently involved in a community carbon reduction project to measure the town's greenhouse gas emissions.

"Not only is it characteristic of Chapel Hill, it is [different from] other places," he said. "There aren't many places where a community has this level of resources to work with."

Though Durham is another "Cool City" listed in the report, efforts like those of UNC and the Chapel Hill community have not been replicated in the Bull City.

"In a student body that is as intelligent as the one at Duke, there might be some opportunities to help with what Durham is doing in that realm," said Tom Jensen, conservation campaign coordinator for the North Carolina Sierra Club.

In 2001, UNC students voted to increase their student fees to allow the Chapel Hill transit system to eliminate bus fares. According to the report, the number of bus riders has doubled since the change.

David Bonk, long range planning and transportation coordinator in Chapel Hill, said the UNC student government took the initiative in the bus proposal.

"The point they made was: we will increase our own fee, but we don't want this to be limited to only a few routes that will cover only the university," he said.

Senior Genevieve Cody, Duke Student Government's vice president for community interaction, said DSG has not yet considered taking initiatives similar to the efforts at UNC. She added that Duke students are involved in environmental initiatives through on-campus organizations such as Environmental Alliance.

"We definitely consider what is going on in Durham," she said. "I mean we are a part of Durham, especially when it comes to environmental efforts."

Bonk said he wasn't sure if greenhouse gas reductions or free fares motivated the students. He added, however, that town-gown cooperation could boost environmental efforts.

"I think ultimately [cooperation] will generate the most benefit to a community, but I also understand there is a whole host of reasons why communities decide to go the way they do," Bonk said.

Eben Polk, associate in policy and research in the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, said Duke is analyzing its own greenhouse gas emissions independently of Durham's efforts.

"There is probably not going to be a lot of overlap immediately because campus and the local government are thinking about this differently," he said.


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