Barney Swan challenges students to clean up 360 million tons of CO2

Victoria May

Students gathered Thursday night to hear about climate change from Barney Swan, the international director of the nonprofit organization ClimateForce.

Addressing a crowd of about 50 student in the Texas Union Theatre, Swan said it is important to focus on cleaning up the carbon footprint and said some of the best methods to achieve that are planting trees and being conscious of your diet.

“Every day we produce roughly 380 to 410 million tons of carbon dioxide, and we need to do something about this, because it’s so overwhelming,” Swan said. “My goal through each expedition is to reduce over 360 million tons of carbon dioxide by 2025. No matter where you are in the world, the huge amounts of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is a global issue. We are all responsible for this.”

He also asked students to join him on one of his many expeditions to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This June, Swan is leading an expedition to the Arctic aimed at training and inspiring global leaders to take action toward climate mitigation. Currently, there are two students from UT joining Swan on his upcoming trip.

During this expedition, more than 90 leaders from 25 countries will participate in workshops and expedition activities focusing on leadership, climate change and sustainability.

“In terms of climate change and the amount of carbon dioxide we are emitting, it is just getting worse,” environmental science sophomore Jose Ochoa Tello said. “What Swan is doing is really important because he’s giving students such a large outlet to go out and make a difference in a variety of ways.”


Swan said doing small things helps offset any negative impact each person may have on the environment. Actions such as planting trees, campaigning for change at different levels of government or even just selecting a day to pick up trash around one’s neighborhood are small scale solutions that can have a big impact, Swan said.

“Anyone can practice sustainability,” environmental science sophomore Sandra Bustillos said. “It’s important to see sustainability as a lifestyle rather than something you do once or every now and then. You don’t have to be an environmental scientist to practice sustainability. There are tons of small changes that anyone can do to make a huge difference.”

In addition to his expedition in the Arctic, Swan said students should look into joining him on other expeditions to places such as Costa Rica and Iceland.