In 2007, Duke University signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and set the goal to become climate neutral by 2024. This commitment led to the development of Duke's first Climate Action Plan in 2009. This plan provided recommendations to reduce emissions from energy used on campus and emissions from transportation-related activities (employee commuting, air travel, and Duke-owned vehicles). It also provided recommendations on carbon offsets, which led to the creation of the Duke Carbon Offsets Initiative. Lastly, the CAP also focused on ways to improve sustainability across Duke by creating recommendations for education and campus-community outreach.
Since 2009, Duke has made significant progress on these recommendations leading to a total emissions reduction of 24%, development of alternative transportation programs, an experiential Certificate in Sustainability Engagement, and a strong communications and outreach plan that engages thousands of students, staff, and faculty every year.
Climate Action Plan 2019 Update Process
Nearly a decade since 2009, Duke University began updating its Climate Action Plan to assess progress to-date, review assumptions that may have changed and consider new strategies that could push Duke towards carbon neutrality in 2024. The CAP Update draft has involved input from the Campus Sustainability Committee and other stakeholders on campus, an Energy Needs Analysis developed by an external consultant, and research done by Duke University.
With a goal of full transparency, the University sought input from internal and external stakeholders through an open comment period on Duke's draft CAP Update. This comment period was open from November 2nd until December 17th. Over 50,000 people had the opportunity to provide feedback during this period. Over 350 members of the Duke and local community engaged with Sustainable Duke during this period leading to over 50 pages of comments. These comments were reviewed and responded to in the Climate Action Plan Update or the Response to Comment document, both of which were reviewed by the Campus Sustainability Committee and plan to be shared publicly in the spring of 2019.