wellsAurora, New York— Wells College, along with 83 other colleges and universities across the United States, committed to carbon neutrality and resilience by becoming a Charter Signatory to the Climate Commitment. The Climate Commitment, a signature program of Boston-based nonprofit Second Nature, will require Wells to set climate targets, report on progress publicly, and collaborate with the surrounding community, all while integrating sustainability across the curriculum. To become a Charter Signatory of the Climate Commitment, schools had to sign between October 5, 2015 and Earth Day, 2016.

"As an institution, Wells has a responsibility to stand at the forefront of efforts to create a more sustainable culture," said Wells President Jonathan Gibralter. "And because of our size, our location here in Aurora and the connections we have to our alumni community, we're really able to make deliberate choices that will help set standards that others can follow."

In 2008, Wells signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment (now referred to as the Carbon Commitment), also administered by Second Nature; under the terms of that pledge, the Wells community developed and has been implementing its own Climate Action Plan. In 2014, the College founded the Center for Sustainability and the Environment, led by Director Marian Brown, to coordinate and encourage the community's efforts.

"We are well along with reducing our annual greenhouse gas emissions reductions under the 'carbon commitment' component of the Climate Commitment," said Brown. "The College benefits directly from these actions because those reductions in purchased electricity and building heating fuels – which comprise the major portion of our emissions profile – have direct cost-savings implications – the lower the emissions, the less fuels we use, the less we pay. The Resiliency Commitment is new for us, and will afford us the opportunity to reach out and work in partnership with representatives of our local community. Wells College recognizes fully that we cannot 'go it alone,' we must plan together with our municipal partners how to be more resilient in the face of climate-related impacts that will affect us all."

The Climate Commitment is one of three commitments from Second Nature. These are known jointly as the Climate Leadership Commitments, and include a Carbon Commitment (focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions), a Resilience Commitment (focused on climate adaptation and building community capacity), and a Climate Commitment that integrates both. The Carbon Commitment, formerly known as the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (or ACUPCC) has a track record of 10 years of success, boasts nearly 600 signatories, and has been used as a model for higher education climate action internationally. The Climate Commitment seeks to expand on that success and integrate resilience into the framework. In the U.S., these signatory institutions become part of the Climate Leadership Network, which comprises more than 650 colleges and universities in every state and the District of Columbia.

The Climate Leadership Commitments have created tremendous impact: A recent study from the University of New Hampshire and facilities solutions company, Sightlines, found that campuses that have signed the Carbon Commitment have 47% lower carbon emissions from purchased energy than non-signatories that are doing sustainability work on campus. Additionally, Climate Leadership Network signatories are over-represented in sustainability leadership rankings. For example, 100% of the Top 10 Sierra Club Cool Schools are signatories. Second Nature also recently worked with the White House to create and support the American Campuses Act on Climate pledge leading up to the COP21 international climate talks. Nearly 80% of the pledges were from Climate Leadership Network institutions.