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As President Barack Obama and Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle prepare to attend a major summit on carbon neutrality in Copenhagen Dec. 9, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh reached a major milestone in its efforts toward becoming carbon neutral by 2025 with the development of an aggressive Climate Action Plan.

The plan outlines how the University could achieve carbon neutrality by eliminating or replacing 100 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions. The University is one of about 110 colleges to produce a Climate Action Plan as part of the American Colleges and Universities Climate Commitment, but only 5 percent of those have aimed for carbon neutrality by 2025.

“We took seriously the challenge of committing to a bold Climate Action Plan that will allow us to continue to provide leadership in sustainability to the state and the country,” said Chancellor Richard H. Wells. “Setting an aggressive timeline is important to us as we strive to continue to lead the nation.”

Because the University was one of four UW System campuses selected by Governor Jim Doyle in 2006 to work toward replacing all fossil fuels for heating and electricity, the University was able to utilize a state-funded Energy Independence Study in developing its plan. The study described energy conservation projects that would pay back within 10 years, conversion of the heating plant to biomass, and renewable electricity projects and purchase options.

“Eliminating fossil fuel usage for heating and electricity will reduce the University’s carbon emissions by about 75 percent in the next decade,” said Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services Tom Sonnleitner. “The remaining 25 percent is attributed to student and staff commuting, which will be addressed by 2025.”

“We have been selected to lead the state; now is our opportunity to lead the nation,” added Director of Sustainability Mike Lizotte. “This plan helps us identify concrete steps we can take to move our efforts forward.”