April 18, 2001

Kyoto Now! Protest Ends

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Seven days, several rallies and thousands of signatures after the Kyoto Now! protest began last Wednesday outside of Day Hall, an agreement was reached yesterday between protesters and administrators on Cornell’s effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

A statement was issued by Harold D. Craft Jr., vice president for administration and chief financial officer, that asserted the conclusion reached through yesterday’s negotiations.

“The standards established by the Kyoto Protocol serve as a standard for communities as well as nations to emulate,” Craft said in the statement, adding, “With this in mind, I hereby commit Cornell University to do everything within its ability, consistent with the University’s obligations … to implement the Kyoto Protocol standards.”

The goal set by the protesters and the University, based on the Kyoto Protocol, is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to seven percent below the 1990 levels by 2008.

Craft’s statement also addressed Cornell’s previous successful efforts to reduce emissions, including the Lake Source cooling project, the renovation of heating and cooling systems and the relamping of campus buildings. According to Craft, these projects have led to a reduction of approximately 150,000 tons below the level that would have otherwise been emitted.

“We didn’t talk about specifics; we talked about establishing Cornell’s commitment to the Kyoto Protocol while respecting the mission of education and outreach,” said Doug Krisch ’00 about yesterday’s meeting, which he called a “victory for the world.”

“We spent a long time today working on wording and compromises we were willing to make,” said Frankie Lind ’01. “We compromised over the strength of the wording of the commitment.”

“We never really differed in terms of objectives, we just had to find common ground,” said Henrik N. Dullea ’61, vice president for University relations, noting that the two sides “started from a common commitment to improve the environment.”

“The next step is setting up a committee, which will take place next week,” said Emily Cikanek ’04.

According to the agreement, the committee will include faculty, students and staff, with representatives from such “governance groups” as the Cornell Greens and the Student Assembly.

“We need to define the committee and we need to do an environmental survey with experts,” Lind said, adding that the ultimate objective at this stage is to assess “what implementation [of the goals] is going to involve.”

To ensure advancement toward the emission reduction goals, administrators have agreed to issue regular progress reports.

“This is going to be a very serious undertaking,” Cikanek said. “The community is going to make sure it happens,” she added, commenting on the widespread support shown, for example, by the frequent honking of horns throughout this week in response to the protesters’ signs.

“This is a great victory,” said David Unger ’02, “but it is only the first. Now it’s up to the University, the Greens and the community to ensure that this commitment results in a real change.”

Archived article by Stacy Williams