On July 20th, the Carbon Neutrality Initiative Fellows attended the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference to present their projects and research. These students are the first cohort awarded this fellowship, which was created to promote research dedicated to reducing the carbon footprint of the UC campuses and their surrounding communities. Two years ago, UC President Janet Napolitano created an intitative that required all UC campuses to be carbon neutral from building energy use and fleet by 2025. To help reach this goal, the CNI fellowships were developed to garner student engagement and action for this initiative. At the conference, many fellows were able to meet and discuss how they could create an UC wide campaign to bring more awareness around the Carbon Neutrality Initiative.
Since the Universisty of California is a global leader in research, and climate change is a global problem, Napolitano also designed this fellowship to award students who are contributing their research and ideas to reducing the world's dependency on carbon emitting practices. These fellows focused on various topics, such as finance and carbon sequestering, which advocated for cross disciplinary partnership in addressing climate change.
As a part of the conference, some of the CNI fellows were invited to meet with President Napolitano. The fellows were able to discuss the importance of their research and how UC facilities helped them to produce their research. However, many students highlighted how it was hard to gain support and funding for their work. Students also brought up how they felt that their research was contradictory to UC's decision to not divest from fossil fuels. At the end of the meeting, students were able to suggest how they can make this fellowship better for future fellows and what steps we can take to make UC campuses carbon neutral.
The fellowship program will continue this year on all 10 campuses, expanding the important contributions students will make to solving the carbon crisis.