Climate Pledge Puts COCC on Path to Carbon Neutrality

Jan. 5, 2023

Central Oregon Community College’s (COCC) President Dr. Laurie Chesley recently signed a “carbon commitment” national climate pledge for higher education institutions that initiates a series of steps to strategically reduce the college’s carbon footprint. In signing the pledge in late 2022, Chesley aligns COCC’s environmental objectives with 443 other colleges and universities around the country, 10 of whom have already reached carbon neutrality.

“We’ve seen how drought, rising summer temperatures, major wildfires, milder winters and unreliable snowpack have brought some extreme changes to life in Central Oregon,” said Chesley. “Climate action needs to be both a local and global initiative. Joining the Presidents’ Climate Commitment is another way COCC is proud to contribute to this vital work.”

The carbon commitment pledge, COCC’s objective, is one of three action-oriented pledges of the Climate Leadership Network, a signature program of the Massachusetts-based nonprofit Second Nature, which provides member institutions with carbon-reduction resources and an implementation liaison. The program first began in 2006, when 12 college and university presidents initiated the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment.

The carbon commitment pledge focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving carbon neutrality. Second Nature defines carbon neutrality as no net greenhouse gas emissions, achieved by either eliminating net greenhouse gas emissions or by minimizing emissions and using carbon offsets or other measures.

“Within the year, we’ll be doing a greenhouse gas inventory,” explained Noelle Copley, sustainability coordinator at the college, who advises a 10-person, student-and-staff sustainability committee and leads climate action team workshops, among other efforts. The inventory, Copley explained, will involve surveying all utilities and the college’s vehicle fleet, together with student vehicle use, with some data potentially being gathered by sustainability students at Oregon State University-Cascades. Existing climate-focused priorities at COCC, in areas such as energy efficiency and waste reduction, will become more formalized under the new commitment.

Last year, the college received a Bee Campus USA designation from the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, was named an official Tree Campus by the Arbor Day Foundation and participated in Bard University’s Worldwide Teach-In Climate Justice event.

In 2023, the college will again offer a series of sustainability and climate action-oriented public events. Among its sustainability-focused curriculum, COCC provides hybrid-electric automotive training and offers a range of interdisciplinary credit and noncredit classes.

For more information, contact Noelle Copley, sustainability coordinator, at 541-383-7779 or

COCC Makes Climate Pledge