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Campus joins national Focus the Nation "teach-in" with Jan. 31 global warming symposium


By Cyril Manning, College of Natural Resources
BERKELEY – This Thursday (Jan. 31), the University of California, Berkeley, will join more than 1,500 institutions - most of them colleges and universities - across the United States in hosting an all-day symposium called “Focus the Nation: Global Warming Solutions for America.”

At UC Berkeley, faculty presentations, panel discussions and student-led working sessions will aim to channel participants’ concerns about global warming into solutions and political engagement. Public officials and noted climate scientists from UC Berkeley will take part, along with many students, faculty and staff members, administrators and guests.

The nationwide event, with hundreds of schools holding simultaneous gatherings, is being described as the largest “teach-in” in the country’s history by Focus the Nation’s national organizer, Eban Goodstein, an economics professor at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore. Classes, documentaries, performances, energy-saving competitions and discussions with political leaders are among the activities being offered from coast to coast.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau said the campus is proud to take part in Focus the Nation because it is “an important event addressing climate change through the lens of research and policy as well as the frame of collective and individual action.”

The event is being presented at International House by the Berkeley Institute of the Environment and Cal Climate Action Partnership (CalCAP). Co-sponsors are Students for a Greener Berkeley, California Center for Environmental Law and Policy, Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative (BERC), the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Sustainability and the Center for Environmental Public Policy.

Keynote speakers will be Fran Pavley, the California State Senate candidate and former California assemblywoman who authored the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, and Steven Chu, Nobel laureate and director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The event’s UC Berkeley Web site is at:

Birgeneau said UC Berkeley is a fitting venue for “Focus the Nation” because the campus has a long and rich history of pioneering knowledge and action on the most urgent issues, including climate change.

“We are moving quickly forward on a number of crucial projects to help the environment, including the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) and research on climate change, aimed at developing solutions to global energy challenges and reducing the contribution of fossil fuels to global warming,” he said.

In 2007, following an extensive assessment and feasibility study, Birgeneau announced a bold campus commitment to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2014 - six years ahead of California’s ambitious state reduction target. To achieve this goal, UC Berkeley has embarked upon more than a dozen projects aimed at drastically reducing its environmental footprint. Projects include retrofitting lighting and other energy-intensive equipment in buildings, upgrading bathrooms to better conserve water and improving the campus’s steam heating plant.

In addition, an Office of Sustainability has been established on campus, and its new director, Lisa McNeilly, will begin work this Wednesday to support and coordinate the campus’s wide range of environmental efforts. Prior to her arrival at UC Berkeley, McNeilly served as regional program director for the Nature Conservancy, directed international programs at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, and was special assistant to the White House Climate Change Task Force.


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