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In Response to Laudato Si, Notre Dame Ends Coal Use

By Sharon Chen
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In response to Pope Francis’ call to action on climate change, and in advance of his visit to the United States, Notre Dame has announced that it will stop burning coal for electricity. The university also has plans to cut its carbon footprint in half by 2030.

The pope’s powerful encyclical,  “Laudato Si, On Care for Our Common Home,” states that global warming is real, can be traced to human causes, and is an issue that needs urgent attention, despite the cost. Notre Dame’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, notes that the encyclical is a “challenging moral vision, but one for which, I believe, our world is hungry, and no university is better positioned to respond.” And indeed, Notre Dame’s response is a powerful and inspiring one: the university is completely phasing out coal in the next five years, investing in natural gas projects, and building a hydroelectric plant and solar power and geothermal fields. The university estimates that these efforts will collectively reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 47,500 tons.

As Pope Francis has reminded us, the state of the environment is a central moral issue. Universities like Notre Dame are heeding his call and showing the world that we can (and should) rise to meet the climate change challenge. 


Pope's concern about climate change prompts Notre Dame to end use of coal

Maureen Groppe | USA Today | September 21, 2015

WASHINGTON – The University of Notre Dame will stop burning coal for electricity in response to Pope Francis’ call to action on climate change, the school’s president announced Monday.

The Rev. John I. Jenkins also said Notre Dame will cut its carbon footprint by more than half by 2030.

The reductions are the equivalent of taking 10,000 cars off the road, the school estimates.

“Notre Dame is recommitting to make the world a greener place, beginning in our own backyard,” Jenkins said in a statement.

The announcement came a day before Pope Francis arrives in the United States to visit Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia.

The pope in June issued an encyclical saying global warming is real, partly caused by humans and needs to be addressed more urgently despite the costs.

Jenkins said the encyclical -- "Laudato Si', On Care for Our Common Home" -- is a “challenging moral vision, but one for which, I believe, our world is hungry, and no university is better positioned to respond.”

Notre Dame had already cut the use of coal at its combined heat and power plant from 85 percent to 15 percent in recent years, by switching to cleaner-burning natural gas.

Jenkins said the school will end all use of coal over the next five years. That means more natural gas in the short term while the school invests $113 million in renewable energy projects.

For example, Notre Dame is working to build a hydroelectric facility on the St. Joseph River dam in downtown South Bend. The project, which could begin next year, would provide 7 percent of the campus’ electricity when completed.

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