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Nov. 14, 2006

MSU goes greener in joining Chicago Climate Exchange

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State University has taken another step toward being a “greener” place: MSU has joined the Chicago Climate Exchange as another step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon, along with Fred Poston, vice president of finance and operations, and Michael Walsh, senior vice president of the Chicago Climate Exchange, signed the membership agreement today during a ceremony at MSU’s T.B. Simon Power Plant. The occasion was marked by a tree planting.

“Michigan State has tremendous power to educate and inform, to help motive positive changes in behaviors and to translate research by our students and faculty into practical solutions,” said Simon. “This promises to be a powerful partnership in the best tradition of our world-grant mission that will result in innovations to help solve a significant global problem and make a difference in Michigan.”

MSU will bring its broad expertise in environmental sciences, its history of stewardship and tradition of student involvement into play with the Chicago Climate Exchange. The exchange, or CCX, is North America’s only, and the world’s first, greenhouse gas emission registry, reduction and trading system for greenhouse gases.

Greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels and wood, and from the decay of plant and animal material. Greenhouse gases also re-enter the life cycle as trees draw upon carbon dioxide to grow and as the oceans absorb it. Imbalances such as too much carbon gas released into the air result in global warming.

Ultimately, scientists theorize, greenhouse gas emissions and re-absorption of those gases must be equal. Because some polluters produce more emissions than are legally allowed, they can go to the exchange and, in effect, buy from other participants who fell short of their cap on emissions.

Members of the Chicago Climate Exchange seek to reduce direct emissions by conserving energy, for example, and to provide opportunities to offset emissions such as no-till farming, tree farming or other carbon credits. MSU will work toward the prescribed 6 percent reduction goal.

It’s a goal that will rely heavily on undergraduate involvement, Poston said.

“We have 10,000 graduates each year. We want to send them off equipped to be environmentally responsible,” Poston said. “MSU’s strength is that the integration of students speeds the translation to behavioral change.”

Across campus, MSU’s broad-based research in agriculture, forestry, engineering and environmental sciences, combined with a strong record of student engagement, positions the university for a unique partnership.

Membership in the CCX also will position Michigan’s bioeconomy base, helping to move farming toward solutions in renewable fuels, in nontraditional farming methods and crops, and in environmentally sound practices, said David Skole, professor of forestry.

“Our research base will enable us to work along side the problem to help find solutions,” Skole said. “Other members will look to us for guidance academically, and we’ll be able to offer technical and research-oriented resources.”

Carbon credits, Skole said, show promise as part of the future of farming. Carbon emission credits could become a commodity, much like crops and livestock.

MSU will be the fifth university to join the CCX, along with Tufts, University of Iowa, University of Minnesota and University of Oklahoma.


Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 14 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.