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University of Colorado Boulder Athletics joins United Nations’ Race To Zero emissions campaign


University of Colorado Athletics has joined the United Nations Race To Zero campaign, working alongside businesses, universities and countries around the world to achieve net zero carbon emissions.

The department’s commitment to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and to reach net zero emissions by 2040 is consistent with Athletic Director Rick George’s previous actions on climate initiatives, said Dave Newport, director of the CU Boulder Environmental Center.

Colorado athletic director Rick George

“We are well-known for Rick’s leadership in this space and the work that CU Athletics has done, and this is just the next step,” Newport said.

CU Athletics was a founding member of the Green Sports Alliance in 2011, renovated and built facilities to meet the highest standards of sustainability, hosted zero-waste tailgates and implemented aluminum cups at Folsom Field to reduce plastic use.

In a statement, George said joining Race To Zero is not only the right thing to do, it is a must-do for all organizations.

“We can all continue to set examples for our fans and everybody else watching to make sustainable choices,” George said.

The campus’ annual carbon emissions are roughly 130,000 tons, Newport said, and the Athletics Department makes up 8,000 to 9,000 of those tons, or between 6 to 7%.

A big part of Race To Zero is identifying sources of carbon emissions that are not as obvious, Newport said. Instead of gas in a car or coal fueling power plants, think airplanes taking off every day. While individual actions might not be as effective in reducing “supply chain carbon,” collective action is effective.

“There’s a lot of room for hope in what we can do in terms of supply chain carbon,” Newport said, and a big part of the next year will be developing a plan to do so.

“The atmosphere doesn’t care where the carbon comes from — it just doesn’t want it there, period,” he said.