The American University in Cairo (AUC) announced on Tuesday that it is joining the Race to Zero campaign — a UN-backed global initiative aiming to achieve a net-zero carbon world.
AUC has pledged to halve its emissions by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest.
“Race to Zero aims to rally leadership and support from colleges and universities across the globe for a healthy, resilient, zero-carbon recovery that prevents future threats, creates decent jobs, and unlocks inclusive sustainable growth,” says AUC’s Sustainability Director Yasmine Mansour.
With AUC’s Climate Change initiative ramping up ahead of Egypt hosting the 27th UN Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh this November, joining the campaign was a no-brainer, according to Khaled Tarabieh — an Associate Professor in the AUC’s Department of Architecture.”
“AUC is always looking for opportunities to join models of excellence and best practices,” he said.
“In line with our preparations for the COP27, we believe our participation would situate us perfectly and align well with our work.”
AUC will now set up an action plan with short-term goals. The university will focus on improving areas — such as energy use, transportation, solid waste disposal, and campus design — drawing from recommendations made in its biennial Carbon Footprint Report.
“Curbing our emissions on campus is a primary operational goal and key for our mitigation of climate change challenges,” Tarabieh added.
“We have so far reduced our carbon footprint by 35% using a smarter set of operational strategies since we started looking at our emissions 10 years ago.”
Moving forward, the AUC is committed to furthering reductions, institutionalising sustainability in both operations and curricula, optimising the performance of our existing buildings, and planning for greener buildings with minimum environmental load and emissions.
“As a leader of sustainability in MENA, we hope the AUC’s commitment to the Race to Zero campaign encourages other institutions to join us in taking meaningful action towards reducing our carbon emissions in the face of climate change,” says Mansour.
Net-zero refers to reducing greenhouse gas emissions as close to zero as possible with any leftover emissions being reabsorbed by the atmosphere. At the AUC, this means reducing energy usage and air travel and rethinking waste disposal.
“Climate change is one of the most significant environmental challenges facing humankind,” adds Mansour.
“Universities play a vital role in helping solve the climate crisis. Higher education does this through research, community engagement, student activity and sustainable operations.”
With this move, AUC is joining what Mansour described as “a well-established international alliance” that includes more than 1,000 educational institutions, including the Goldsmiths University of London, University of Cambridge, Stockholm University, and Concordia University, represented by over 10 million students worldwide in the race for a healthier, fairer, and cleaner world.