UT needs to be transparent about emission plans

Ezra Gomez

During Earth Day this year, there were several demonstrations on campus to keep students interested and informed about planetary concerns. One interactive presentation was a large “Bleed Orange, Live Green” wall with four posters, each symbolizing different actions UT could take in order to help curb UT’s carbon footprint. Students could place a sticker on the action they thought was most important.

By far, the poster with the word “emissions” had the most stickers.

From the Earth Day experiment, the answer was clear: Students desperately want the University to reduce its carbon emissions. In the future, UT must hold more public, in-depth conversations about how it will move forward environmentally and increase transparency regarding its plans to reduce carbon emissions. 

The University has had its current power plant for upwards of 90 years, and the plant has been continually upgraded to make it as efficient as possible. However, this power plant is serving a student body that no longer wants it. 

If UT has the technology to continually improve upon its use of a nonrenewable resource, it needs to keep students updated and prove it is not wasting time or resources. If the University would invest in more public conversations about where its money is going, it could foster dialogue between students and administration and invest in systems that both the school and student body would appreciate.

Kristine Januskaite, a Students Fighting Climate Change activism director, agreed that the University needs to be more transparent with how it plans on eventually leaving nonrenewable electricity sources in the past.

“There is not a good understanding of how the University actually plays into the climate crisis …, and as we have started to educate and engage our community with this issue, there has been an outstanding push for change,” said Januskaite, an international relations, sustainability and urban studies junior.

Students like Januskaite stress that those conversations cannot happen soon enough.

“It is very obvious this type of change is wanted (by) our student body,” Januskaite said. “With increased transparency and willingness to make tangible steps toward systemic change, UT can really show that what starts here changes the world.”

As far as planning for our future goes, director of sustainability Jim Walker said the University has a lot of ground to cover.

“Our use of fossil fuels and putting renewable energy on campus is just one part of that conversation (regarding campus sustainability plans),” Walker said. “There’s new technology emerging (and) there’s new financial tools emerging that I think would be exciting for the University to look at. Starting the conversation about what should be part of stopping or reducing campus emissions, that’s the main thing starting to happen.”

Past, present and future Longhorns have a right to know about the steps UT plans to take to tackle emissions, as they have proven this topic is something that concerns them deeply.

The University needs to be more transparent when it comes to future plans for reducing carbon emissions and keep conversations public regarding how to eventually move away from nonrenewable sources of energy.

Gomez is a journalism freshman from Lewisville, Texas.