University President Drew G. Faust will appoint a task force to study how to reduce Harvard's greenhouse gas emissions, leaders from the Environmental Action Committee said yesterday. The recommendations of the task force, which are due in May, will form the basis of a commitment to reduce emissions that will be unveiled in June.
The appointment of the task force comes as environmental advocates at Harvard have pressured Faust to sign the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, which has been signed by 493 schools and commits them to achieving "climate neutrality."
Though Faust has not signed the pledge, improving Harvard's record on the environment has been a goal of the University's leadership.
Dean of the Faculty Michael D. Smith approved a plan to reduce the Faculty of Arts and Sciences' emissions 11 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The plan came after a December 2006 EAC-sponsored resolution that received the support of nearly 90 percent of undergraduates.
The University has also reached an agreement with Massachusetts to keep its greenhouse gas emissions low as it embarks on the construction of a new campus in Allston. In exchange for Harvard's keeping emissions at half the national standard for the project, the Commonwealth will fast track regulatory approval for much of the construction.
Campus environmentalists praised Faust's decision to appoint a task force yesterday, with EAC co-chair Zachary C. Arnold ’10 saying in a statement that it was "a fantastic opportunity" for the University to reach "a responsible and ambitious goal" to address climate change. —Paras D. Bhayani contributed to the reporting of this story. —Check thecrimson.com for more updates.