The independent news organization of Duke University

Letter to the editor

On Oct. 9, the Trump administration announced its decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan. The CPP was one of the most important measures the U.S. has taken against carbon pollution, which is why its rejection represents a severe threat to both the climate and human health. Finalized by the Obama administration in 2015, the CPP would have cut U.S. carbon emissions 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. It would have given each state the flexibility to meet its carbon reduction goals with options such as switching from coal to natural gas or building new renewable energy infrastructure.

We have already witnessed some of the calamitous impacts of climate change from the intensifying strength of hurricanes to the devastating wildfires in the west. We already know that air pollution from fossil fuel combustion increases asthma and cardiovascular mortality. Yet, even in the face of such dire realities, and despite the overwhelming evidence demonstrating that carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is causing climate change, the national administration has decided to take steps against reducing atmospheric greenhouse gases and against preserving a livable planet.

As a result, it has never been more crucial for Duke University to act as an environmental leader. The New York Times argues that while that some more progressive states would have met or exceeded their reduction targets regardless of the Clean Power Plan, North Carolina is likely not one of those states. Given this reality, Duke has a responsibility to foster the growth of renewable energy, not just within the university but also as an institution that plays a substantial role in state policies and decisions. Fulfilling this responsibility will mean more than just promising to consider climate issues; it will mean achieving aggressive energy efficiency targets, fighting for more solar and wind on our electric grid, and moving beyond fossil fuel power plants.

It is devastating that the Trump administration has chosen to repeal the Clean Power Plan and ignore the effects that climate change will have on our planet and safety. In the wake of this decision, Duke University has more of an obligation than ever to drive the essential transformation towards clean energy. 

This piece comes from the perspective of the following student groups calling on the university to take action: Duke Climate Coalition, Duke Environmental Alliance, Duke Energy Club and The Nicholas School Energy Club

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