Frequently Asked Questions on the Commission on Carbon Neutrality

Q. What is the charge of the commission?
A. The commission is charged with developing recommendations, a timeline and strategies for reducing U-M’s carbon emissions to levels that are environmentally sustainable, in a fiscally responsible manner and in the context of its mission of education, research, service and patient care.

It also will develop scalable and transferable strategies that can be used by other institutions and larger communities to achieve carbon neutrality.

The recommendations will include ways in which all members of the university community can participate and share the responsibility for U-M’s progress toward carbon neutrality. 

The scope of the commission’s work will span all three U-M campuses and include (but not be limited to): carbon emissions and sequestration; energy sourcing; technology and behavioral change.

Q. Why not state a date right now for reaching carbon neutrality?
A. Carbon neutrality is an important goal that is complex and multifaceted. To establish a credible timeline and viable plan for achieving carbon neutrality, we must comprehensively evaluate the extent of the challenge through a rigorous process involving a broad range of stakeholders.

It is important to do this work in a way that is scalable and transferable so that our solutions can have impact beyond our campus.  

Q. How was the commission chosen/ what was the criteria?
A. U-M members were selected based on a combination of deep content expertise, relevant research activities and thorough understanding of university operations and management. External organizations represent energy, government and community partners involved in sustainability.

Q. What groups are represented on the commission?
A. The commission and its advisory panels bring together expertise from across U-M and the regional community, and include faculty, students, administrators, representatives of the business sector and local government and community members.   

Q. What is the timeline for completing the commission’s work?
This will be a long-term effort and the commission will begin its work quickly.  

The commission is expected to share an initial interim report in the fall 2019, a second interim report in spring 2020 and final recommendations to the president in fall 2020.

Q. When will the student members be selected to join commission?
A. The commission also will include two students that will be selected in the coming weeks. Invitations requesting nominations for students were sent from the president to student groups that have been heavily engaged on the topic of climate change.

Q. How will the commission engage the broader U-M community and external stakeholders?
A. Engaging the community will be crucial to the process.  To accomplish this, the commission will create several advisory panels to provide various perspectives and expertise, and to serve as a forum for connecting with key stakeholder groups.

The panels include: the Student Advisory Panel; the Faculty Expert Advisory Panel; the University Advisory Panel; and the External Advisory Panel.

The broader community also will have multiple opportunities to provide input on the development of the recommendations through open forums and public comment mechanisms.  

Q. How and when will the panels be selected?
A. The panels will be organized by the commission co-chairs as the commission gets underway.

Q. How can individuals share their ideas and other suggestions?
A. Individuals may continue to share ideas for consideration by the commission using the online webform at: sustainability.umich.edu/carbonneutrality/comments.

Q. Will the university continue to pursue its existing greenhouse gas reduction goal?
A. Yes. While this important work gets underway, the university remains committed to reaching its current campus goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2025, and even exceed it ahead of schedule.