Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development

University of California Commits to Campus Carbon Neutrality in 10 Years

Cuts to short-lived climate pollutants key strategy to stay below 2°C outer limit

Could reduce up to 0.6°C in warming in next two decades

27 October 2015 – California Governor Jerry Brown, University of California (UC) President Janet Napolitano, along with many other legislators, business leaders, and top energy and climate experts committed to UC carbon neutrality in ten years as a beacon for California and the rest of the world to stay below the 2°C guardrail, at the Carbon Neutrality Summit today.  Achieving both maximum possible mitigation of SLCPs and carbon neutrality beyond 2050 could hold global warming to about 2 degrees Celsius through 2100, which would avert the most disastrous climate disruptions,” his is the goal of this report,” according the executive summary of “Bending the Curve: Ten scalable solutions for carbon neutrality and climate stability” the UC report which was was released today as a part of the summit.

The action by California highlighted at the summit and in the report is intended demonstrate to the rest of the world the benefits and the feasibility of near-term action.  Renowned climate scientist Professor V. Ramanthan, who spearheaded the report, asked in a related video, “Can we bend the curve within twenty years from now and stop the warming from reaching catastrophic levels? Fortunately, we can, we have the science and we have the technology. This is where the initiatives taken in California could shine the brightest light possible on this problem.  The carbon neutrality initiatives through which we would go to nearly zero emissions in ten years. Combine that with state of California’s aggressive actions to mitigate climate change using solar, fuel cells, and waste gains can provide a beacon for the nation and for the planet to follow.”

“Bending the Curve” emphasized the rapid reductions in global temperature that can be achieved by reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) which includes black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone and hydrofluorocarbons:

If currently available technologies for reducing SLCPs were fully implemented by 2030, projected warming could be reduced by as much as 0.6 degrees Celsius within two to four decades, keeping the mid-century warming well below 2 degrees Celsius relative to the pre-industrial average. This could give the world additional time to achieve net-zero emissions or even negative carbon emissions through scaling up existing and emerging carbon- neutral and carbon sequestration technologies and methods.”


The summit showcased California’s global leadership on both near and long-term climate change mitigation.  California has taken exploratory action on climate change, including a recent pledge to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.  SLCPs are a key pillar of this initiative which calls for 40 percent cuts to methane and HFCs, and 50 percent cuts to black carbon all by 2030.

University of California’s Press Release is here.

IGSD’s Primer on HFCs is here and Primer on SLCPs is here.