Students, faculty on city campus make collective bid for carbon neutrality

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Students, faculty on city campus make collective bid for carbon neutrality

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5,000 citizens on MIT-ADT University campus pledge to reduce carbon footprint; solar energy, plantation drives, e-vehicles are all initiatives under the project with an NGO

While Pune has long been tagged as Oxford of the East, a new initiative may propel this sector of the city into a more eco-friendly avatar, if emulated by more educational establishments.

In a bid to contribute to sustainability goals, the MIT-Art Design and Technology (MIT-ADT) University has announced its intention to make its Loni Kalbhor campus carbon neutral — which involves taking actions to remove as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as any entity puts in to it. In this effort, they will try to minimise carbon emissions on the premises to reduce the institute’s overall carbon footprint.

Already, the 100-acre campus has prohibited conventional vehicles and allows only e-bikes and e-carts around the premises; the varsity will also soon implement smart water usage and a bio-gas plant

The project is a part of the Smart Campus Cloud Network (SCCN) under the TERRE Policy Centre. This non-profit organisation is seeking to make sustainable development goals (SDGs) mainstream, by deploying the Internet of Things (IoT) — an extension of internet connectivity into physical devices and everyday objects, such as sundry electronics, sensors and more.

After the programme was flagged off by MITADT University executive president Mangesh Karad on April 4, students and faculty have been moulding themselves to achieve the SDGs by working on everything from energy consumption to transport on campus. Approximately 4,500 students and 500 members of staff have already pledged for a carbon neutral campus, and a core group of both parties will soon be formed to ideate a road map for carbon neutrality

Besides creating awareness about a plethora of key topics — climate change, renewable energy, energy conservation, water management, waste management, air pollution and sustainable transport — they are interestingly also setting up a new educational strategy of “learning by doing”, with an eye on the future. For instance, the varsity has changed its mode of transport across the 100-acre-odd campus to ebikes and e-vehicles; this naturally reduces the fuel guzzling on campus, with students, faculty and administrative officials travelling in vehicles run on electricity, while conventional vehicles are limited till a designated parking spot.

Further, they have also initiated energy supply through solar panels, with at least 40 per cent of the total consumption generated in this way. The varsity is also planning to implement smart usage of water and a bio-gas plant, which will further reduce carbon emissions.

Commenting on the same, TERRE Policy Centre chairman Rajendra Shende More — also a former director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and an IIT alumnus — informed that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had released a report at the end of 2018, issuing a dire warning. This study said that if rising global temperatures are to be limited to two degrees Celsius, unprecedented and far-reaching efforts are needed to get rid of global dependence on fossil fuels. If not, we are heading for the sixth extinction of life on the earth (the fifth extinction was 65 million years ago, when dinosaurs and life on earth vanished after a meteorite struck our planet). So, humans now have no option but to cut carbon emissions by 20 per cent till 2030 — and come down to zero by 2075.

Shende told Mirror, “While there are cities internationally that have started working on carbon neutrality, here in India, we too can start with university campuses that are big enough, and then take the drive ahead to cities as a whole.” He added that although efforts are on to bring down carbon emission inside the campus, they obviously don’t have control on outside-campus factors. To overcome this, a carbon calculator is being worked on by the university, to deduce carbon footprints of students and staff while using air travel or other modes of transports like bikes and cars — and this will also be incorporated while calculating the extent of the plantations they will be doing. Said Shende, “Foliage will be planted not only inside campus, but also at other places outside, so as to level up carbon emissions.”

Citizen participants in this green project seem heartened by the effort. An employee working in the public relations department of the institute, Sanju Chavan, said, “For the last four or five days, we have completely stopped using conventional fuel vehicles inside the campus. We come by bus, which is parked in an allocated lot, and then use e-vehicles.” Added Stephen Sebastian, a second-year mechanical engineering student, “We fully support this project and have started using e-bikes, and enjoying energy generated via solar panels. The university makes us aware of sustainable goals through a cloud network — this makes it that much easier for us to implement them in our daily lives.”

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