MIDDLEBURY, Vt.-Climate crisis leaders will convene at a carbon neutral conference this week at Middlebury College from Jan. 25-27 to plan new initiatives to combat global warming. College administrators announced today that any carbon emissions generated by the event-a conference titled “What Works? New Strategies for a Melting Planet”-will be offset by an investment in a renewable energy project. Participants in the conference include such national climate change leaders and grassroots organizers as Executive Director of Greenpeace U.S.A. John Passacantando and “End of Nature” author Bill McKibben.

According to Middlebury College Director of Environmental Affairs Nan Jenks-Jay, the arrangements to offset the carbon emissions generated from the event ensure that the conference will have a net zero impact on the Earth’s climate. Working with Vermont-based NativeEnergy, Middlebury College students estimated the amount of energy required to heat the buildings and provide electricity for the conference, and transport guests to and from the event. NativeEnergy will use the offset funds provided by the college to help build a new renewable wind energy farm on the Rosebud Sioux Tribe reservation in south central South Dakota. The project will displace electricity produced from carbon-intensive coal sources.

Except for the opening lecture on the evening of Wednesday, Jan. 25, the conference is filled to capacity and closed to additional participants. McKibben will post conference highlights daily on the online environmental publication Grist magazine at www.grist.org. The “What Works” blog will also provide a real time tracking of the conference and allow non-registrants to communicate with conference participants on the conference Web site at http://whatworks-climate.org/. Proceedings from the conference will be available on the Web site in mid-February.

The conference, organized by Middlebury College Assistant Professor of Economics Jonathan Isham, is the culmination of his winter term course, “Building the New Climate Movement.” At the event, Isham’s students will present service-learning projects developed in collaboration with environmental organizations and climate-friendly businesses, including Clean Air-Cool Planet, Energy Action, Environmental Defense, and Ben & Jerry’s.

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