Regional partnership supports UN sustainability program

Cornell is joining with the City of Ithaca and the Town of Ithaca to form a campus-regional partnership committed to promoting efficient, innovative and accessible energy, and reach carbon neutrality, community-wide, by the early 2030s.

The Finger Lakes Energy Compact is part of a new international initiative overseen by the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals Program, with compact members sharing solutions to achieve the goals of the U.N.’s SDG Acceleration Actions and the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty on climate change to limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius.

The compact will combine Cornell’s research initiatives and campus efforts in renewable energy and energy efficiency with the City of Ithaca and the Town of Ithaca’s ambitions for a Green New Deal. Together, they will support the adoption of clean and efficient energy, the acceleration of new energy technologies and a just approach to energy access.

The partnership is the first of its kind to be recognized by the United Nations. Previously, only member nations and business partners could form or contribute through the energy program.

“Universal access to sustainable energy can be achieved by the mid-to-late 2030s, transforming millions of lives,” said Lynden Archer, Joseph Silber Dean of Engineering and co-chair of the Sustainable Cornell Council. “Our hope is to harness the world-class operations and research potential of Cornell in an important regional partnership with the City and Town of Ithaca to enable that vision for broader impacts in New York, and the world.”

The compact members intend to share their knowledge and understanding with regional and international stakeholders, in the hope of expanding the Finger Lakes Energy Compact to include other institutions in the state, as well as helping compact members in developing countries – including other cities and academic institutions – pursue strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve carbon neutrality. 

“Despite the increase in ambition by the U.S. and other countries, there is still work to do in order to slow down climate change and mitigate the effect it is already having on the entire planet,” said City of Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick ’09. “As a local community, we are well equipped to increase our level of ambition and implement all the necessary programs to enable a just transition to a carbon-free economy by 2030.”

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Abby Butler