ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION No. 39

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JANUARY 17, 2012

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  WAYNE P. DEANGELO

District 14 (Mercer and Middlesex)

Assemblyman  PETER J. BARNES, III

District 18 (Middlesex)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblyman Eustace, Assemblywomen Wagner, Lampitt and Assemblyman Chivukula

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Urges New Jersey colleges and universities to sign climate change initiative.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Assembly Resolution urging New Jersey’s colleges and universities to become signatories to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

 

Whereas, Human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and developing land for farms, cities, and roads, are changing the composition of Earth’s atmosphere by increasing levels of greenhouse gases; and

Whereas, Global surface temperatures have risen 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit over the last century and the rate that temperatures are rising has tripled over the last thirty years; and

Whereas, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded that the rising global temperature is very likely due to a corresponding increase in the levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere produced by human activity and is causing Earth’s climate to change; and

Whereas, The climate change caused by rising global temperatures will likely increase the frequency, severity, and duration of heat waves, creating a greater risk for heat-related illnesses and deaths, especially amongst the elderly, very young, disabled, and poor; and

Whereas, The climate change caused by rising global temperatures will likely increase the intensity of hurricanes creating stronger peak winds and increased rainfall; and

Whereas, The climate change caused by rising global temperatures will likely increase the risk of flooding within storm-affected areas and increase the risk of drought in areas located outside storm tracks; and

Whereas, The climate change caused by rising global temperatures will likely continue to decrease the size of polar ice sheets and land-based glaciers, causing sea levels to rise and contribute to enhanced coastal erosion, coastal flooding, and the loss of coastal wetlands; and

Whereas, Across the globe, governments and environmentally conscious organizations are engaged in substantial efforts to help combat climate change by decreasing human production of greenhouse gases; and

Whereas, Colleges and universities are essential participants in the battle against climate change because of their role as educators of our next generation and their ability to model innovative ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and

Whereas, Six hundred and seventy-four institutions of higher education from across the country have signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which pledges that signatory institutions will integrate sustainability into their academic curricula, work toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and eventually achieve climate neutrality; and

Whereas, Only 19 of New Jersey’s 63 colleges and universities have currently signed on as signatories of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment; and

Whereas, Every college and university within the State of New Jersey should be committed to educating students about attaining sustainability, working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and eventually achieving climate neutrality; now, therefore

 

     Be It Resolved by the General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    New Jersey’s colleges and universities are urged to become signatories to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

 

     2.    Bergen Community College, Berkeley College, County College of Morris, Cumberland County College, Drew University, Georgian Court University, Gloucester County College, Kean University, Mercer County Community College, Montclair State University, Ocean County College, Ramapo College of New Jersey, Rider University, Rowan University, Saint Peter’s College, Sussex County Community College, The College of New Jersey, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, and William Paterson University of New Jersey are all hereby commended by this House for becoming signatories to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

 

     3.    Duly authenticated copies of this resolution, signed by the Speaker of the General Assembly and attested by the Clerk thereof, shall be transmitted to the president of every New Jersey college or university.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This resolution of the General Assembly urges New Jersey’s colleges and universities to become signatories to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

     The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has concluded that it is “unequivocal” that Earth’s climate is warming.  Global surface temperatures have risen 1.3 degrees Fahrenheit over the last century and the rate that temperatures are rising has tripled over the last thirty years.  Moreover, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientists believe that there is a greater than 90 percent chance that most of the warming we have experienced since the 1950s is due to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.

     Scientists predict that climate change caused by a rise in global temperatures will have a disastrous impact on our planet and all of its inhabitants.  The frequency, severity, and duration of heat waves will increase and cause a greater risk for heat-related illnesses and deaths, especially amongst the elderly, very young, disabled and poor.  Rising sea surface temperatures will amplify the intensity of hurricanes creating stronger peak winds and increased rainfall. Earth’s water cycle will also be intensified, resulting in more frequent heavy precipitation events, increased overall precipitation, and greater risk of flooding within storm-affected areas.  At the same time, regions located outside storm tracts will experience a decrease in precipitation and an increased risk of drought.  Polar ice sheets and land-based glaciers will continue to melt and shrink, causing sea levels to rise and contribute to enhanced coastal erosion, coastal flooding, and the loss of coastal wetlands. However, scientists also believe that many of these perils can be averted by decreasing human production of greenhouse gases.

     Although governments and environmentally conscious organizations are already engaged in the battle against climate change, it is imperative that New Jersey’s institutions of higher education become leaders in the fight.  Colleges and universities are essential participants in this battle because of their role as educators of our next generation and their ability to model innovative ways of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  Realizing their potential impact, 674 institutions of higher education from across the country have become signatories to the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.  Together they have all pledged to integrate sustainability into their academic curriculum, to work toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and to eventually achieve climate neutrality.  However, only 19 out of New Jersey’s 63 colleges and universities have made this noble commitment despite the urgent need for leadership on this issue from our State’s institutions of higher education.