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UC marked Earth Day with a host of bold green initiatives and research

Last Thursday, April 22, was Earth Day — a celebration of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. Throughout the University of California, campuses are leaning into efforts to improve our world with research-backed projects that will extend well beyond an annual recognition. Here’s a round-up of the University’s work to make the Golden State — and the world — a greener place.

UC launches Center for Climate Justice

The systemwide center based at UC Merced seeks not only to address the root causes of climate change but also confront a broad range of associated social, racial and environmental injustices.

Turning carbon dioxide into concrete

A team led by UCLA professor Gaurav Sant has won the $7.5 million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE. This first-of-its-kind technology that UCLA developed removes carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and other industrial facilities and infuses them into a new type of concrete invented by the team.

Decarbonizing California transportation by 2045

A UC Davis team of transportation and policy experts delivered an analysis outlining policy options to significantly reduce transportation-related fossil fuel demand and emissions to the California Environmental Protection Agency. They could contribute to a zero-carbon transportation system by 2045 while also improving equity, health and the economy, given that transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in California.

Scientists use enzymes to design compostable plastic

New technology developed by Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley could steer plastics away from landfills and oceans — and into backyard compost bins.

Developing heat-tolerant crops

By 2050, global warming could reduce crop yields by one-third. UC Riverside researchers have identified a gene that could reverse that dangerous trend.

Study of U.S. tuna fisheries explores nexus of climate change, sustainable seafood

A new study published in Elementa by researchers at UC Santa Cruz and NOAA examines traditional aspects of seafood sustainability alongside greenhouse gas emissions to better understand the carbon footprint of U.S. tuna fisheries.

Promoting environmental justice for all

UC Irvine student Neda Ibrahim, a UC Carbon Neutrality Fellow, is working to reduce carbon emissions to help the environment as well as low-income communities of color who are disproportionately impacted by climate change.

On the road to greener transportation

A study led by UC Santa Barbara identifies strategies to reduce in-state petroleum production in parallel with reductions in demand. “Our study attempts to provide options to the state to support the transportation sector’s move away from fossil fuels in a way that narrows existing inequities in environmental and health impacts for communities closest to extraction sites and oil refineries,” said Kyle Meng, an associate professor in UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School and Climate and Energy program co-director for emLab.

Climate change and your health  

The changing climate impacts our health. But how? UC San Diego scientists are taking a close look at what a warming planet means for human well-being. “The real challenge with studying the health impact of climate change is that there’s so much uncertainty,” says Tarik Benmarhnia, associate professor at the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science and at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

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