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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Bending the Curve: Climate Change Solutions Student Projects

Student Movement on Climate Action at UC San Diego: How College and Students Can Combat Climate Change


The effect of climate disruption is arguably the most imminent threat facing ourgeneration. If we continue down the same “business as usual” model, we will be exposed tounforeseen climate disasters as early as the next decade1. The University of California's Bendingthe Curve2 report outlines the ways in which we can significantly mitigate the threat of climatedisruption through ten scalable solutions that fall into six clusters: Science, Technology,Governance Solutions, Societal Transformation, Market-Based Solutions, and EcosystemRestoration. Since climate change is such an imminent issue, mitigation on a global scale isnecessary in order to bend the curve before unprecedented disruption. However, this call toaction is rarely ever motivated through moral conviction alone.3Most governments exist tosatisfy the people within their constituencies, so the voice calling for climate action needs tocome directly from the people. In this report, we find that students are key actors in climateaction because of their youthful passion, access to education and technology, and incentive to getinvolved in their communities. Our report advocates for a global student movement againstclimate disruption. In this paper, we will analyze the current movement against climate changethat is active at our university (University of California, San Diego), suggest solutions that clubson campuses can take in order to strengthen the numbers and initiatives of the movement, andfinally, propose ways in which students can get involved with climate action in the city of SanDiego.

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UCSD's Microgrid: A Pattern for Future Energy Generation?


Climate change is an urgent and pressing issue, as temperatures rise due to excessive carbon dioxide emissions, as well as short lived climate pollutants (black carbon, methane, hydrofluorocarbons, and tropospheric ozone) nations are beginning toexperience the consequences of climate change. The Bending the Curve Report states that mitigating short- lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) may reduce warming by 0.6 degrees Celsius, allowing the world to implement zero emission technology (Ramanathan et al; pg. 5). According to the report, an 80% reduction in carbon emissions, along with SLCP mitigation action, will maintain global warming below 2 degrees Celsius for the rest of the century (Ramanathan et al; pg. 14). Replacing natural gas with renewable energy will be essential to becoming carbon neutral, this will benefitnot only developed cities but reduce the need for SLCPs in rural and developing areas as well. UCSD is taking initiative through development of its microgrid, allowing the ability to produce our own energy and create independence from the main grid.

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Food: UC San Diego's Carbon Footprint


Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tons — gets lost or wasted. This issue is especially relevant on college campuses, which often house multiple dining halls, restaurants, and markets where food waste can occur. In order to effectively address this issue on the UCSD campus, mitigation strategies must align with the six clusters outlined in the “Bending the Curve” report: Science, Technology, Governance, Social Transformation, Market- and Regulations - Based Solutions, and Ecosystem Restoration. Therefore the objective of this report is to address the issue of food waste at UCSD based on these clusters. Each section in this report tackles the issue of food waste from a different perspective, and proposes plans for action to reduce food waste and carbon emission at UCSD.

  • 1 supplemental PDF
Cover page of Under 2C Living Laboratories

Under 2C Living Laboratories


Fifty-two cities, sixty-three businesses, and several universities have become living laboratories for ambitious climate mitigation programs. By 2050, the total annual emissions for the fifty-two cities will reduce by 407 MMTCO2e (million metric tons), compared with their base period (ranging from 1990 to 2013) emissions, which is equivalent to making the entire state of California, the sixth largest world economy, nearly carbon neutral. Case studies reveal that between 2000 and 2014, California and Sweden grew their Gross Domestic Products (GDPs) by nearly 30% while their CO2e emissions declined by 5% and 24% respectively. Such reductions employ a multitude of action plans, which we place in the context of the Ten Solutions for Carbon Neutrality and Climate Stability published by the University of California. The technologies deployed by the living laboratories include: improving end-use efficiencies; conversion to renewably generated electricity; solving intermittency of solar and wind power with batteries, fuel cells, and hydrogen; developing micro-grids for distributed power generation; expanding use of electric vehicles; recycling reform; capturing agricultural/landfill emissions for conversion to gas; and food waste reduction. The living laboratories have demonstrated that scalable technologies are available now to drastically reduce world-wide carbon emissions. However, doing so requires fundamental behavioral changes.