Chevrolet on Wednesday announced a first-of-its-kind program that essentially lets college campuses make money off of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, in what could be a significant step in lowering carbon emissions.
The Detroit-based automaker said it has already begun to purchase to purchase carbon credits from campuses in exchange for those campuses undertaking projects that reduce their emissions, most notably by increasing energy efficiency and investing in renewable energy alternatives. Buying those credits essentially offsets the extra costs that may have initially prevented the universities from investing in energy efficient options for their buildings and vehicles.
“The Chevrolet carbon-reduction initiative is about supporting the ingenious ways people are reducing their carbon emissions, like the efforts of leaders driving the higher education sustainability movement,” General Motor’s director of sustainability David Tulauskas said in a statement, noting that a clean energy infrastructure would likely help Chevrolet in the future.
“Electric cars like the Chevrolet Volt and Spark EV drawing electricity from a cleaner energy infrastructure is a win-win for our customers and the environment,” he said.
Campuses have been on the front lines of efforts to get large investors to divest from fossil fuels — and projects like the ones Chevrolet will be funding help move the dial in that direction on a real, practical level.
Universities can sometimes use as much energy as small cities, meaning Chevrolet’s project targets a high-polluting sector. What’s more, that sector just so happens to be filled with young people who are statistically more eager to fight climate change, and who have already been pushing for greener alternatives. According to a 2013 poll by the Beneson Strategy Group, 80 percent of young voters support President Barack Obama’s plan to take action against climate change. Most give pragmatic reasons for their support — 65 percent say investments in clean energy would create jobs.
The carbon credit program is part of Chevrolet’s larger “Carbon Reduction Initiative,” which has a goal of reducing up to 8 million metric tons of CO2 by investing up to $40 million dollars in new projects and programs. Through the program, the company estimates it has already reduced 3.4 million metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere.
Ball State University in Indiana and Valencia College in Orlando are among the first colleges and universities to try the new program, Chevrolet said, adding that 675 campuses have pledged to reduce carbon emissions.