Bowdoin Receives Award for Becoming Carbon Neutral

By Rebecca Goldfine

Bowdoin's achievement in reaching carbon neutrality two years ahead of schedule garnered it recognition at an annual climate summit for universities and colleges.

Keisha Payson and other college representatives are honored for climate-related actions
Keisha Payson, far left, with other college representatives recently honored for their school's climate-related actions

Second Nature, one of two organizations hosting this year's Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit, praised Bowdoin for "raising the bar with leadership and innovation, inspiring the network [of colleges and universities] to strive toward our shared climate goals."

Keisha Payson, Bowdoin's sustainability director, attended the February summit in Tempe, Arizona. She accepted the climate leadership award for Bowdoin and met with other college and university representatives to discuss ways to accelerate progress in climate action on campuses across the country.

Payson said Bowdoin was able to forge ahead of its climate neutrality goals thanks to the strong leadership of College administrators, as well as dedication from staff, faculty, and students.

Indeed, the College's commitment to addressing climate change translates to many educational opportunities for students, she added. "We have outstanding opportunities for students to learn about these issues in the classroom, as well as out in the field," she said. "Students also engage with these issues through campus clubs, summer internship opportunities, and employment positions with the sustainability office."

Now that Bowdoin has achieved carbon neutrality, it is in the process of drafting its next Climate Action Plan, which will lay out a roadmap for making the College even more sustainable by 2030.

This year's Climate Leadership Summit included workshops on how campuses can reduce their carbon footprints and address the social justice implications of climate change, in that severe and unpredictable weather most threatens marginalized communities and vulnerable people.

Bowdoin was not the only school recognized for its climate achievements at the conference. American University was also honored for attaining climate neutrality, and several other schools received awards for taking strong climate action. Hundreds of educational institutions have committed to becoming carbon neutral, starting with the launch of the Presidents' Climate Leadership Commitments over a decade ago, when then-Bowdoin president Barry Mills signed.

This fall, President Clayton Rose this fall added his name to a list of higher education leaders who support putting a price on carbon to curb fossil fuel use and mitigate the worst effects of climate change.

Carbon Neutrality infographic