On Feb. 27, the Swarthmore Board of Managers approved a $69 million “Energy Master Plan,” which includes the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2035. Entitled the ‘Road Map to Zero,’ Swarthmore’s energy plan includes finding ways to eliminate or offset all of the college’s carbon emissions by 2035. This goal includes implementing a variety of policies to switch Swarthmore’s operations to clean energy sources.
“Swarthmore College is committed to achieving carbon neutrality no later than 2035, which requires us to eliminate or offset all of our greenhouse gas emissions in the next 14 years,” wrote Aurora Winslade, director of sustainability, in an email to The Phoenix. “The Board of Managers recently approved the Roadmap to Zero, a comprehensive energy plan that charts the path to decarbonizing our campus heating and cooling infrastructure, which will get us about two-thirds of the way towards our carbon neutrality goal by virtually eliminating our Scope 1 (direct on-site emissions) and Scope 2 (emissions from purchased electricity) emissions.”
Swarthmore must, however, offset another category of emissions to reach its goal, which are classified as “Scope 3.”
“Scope 3 emissions are all of our indirect emissions from activities like off-campus study, faculty and staff commuting, travel to conferences, athletics, and other activities, which are much harder to eliminate,” wrote Winslade. “As a result, we will likely purchase carbon offsets to neutralize these emissions until fossil-fuel-free alternatives become widely available. This approach will go hand in hand with efforts to reduce these emissions through measures like encouraging carpooling, the adoption of electric vehicles, and teleconferencing. We see carbon offsetting as a tool that will come into play after we’ve reduced these emissions as much as possible.”