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UC celebrates universities’ leadership on climate change

On Tuesday, Feb. 12, UC President Janet Napolitano joined hundreds of higher education leaders and sustainability advocates at the 2019 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit in Tempe, Arizona, to discuss how universities can accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future. President Napolitano’s participation in the summit marked the first anniversary of the launch of the University Climate Change Coalition, or UC3, a collective of leading North American research universities committed to working with local and regional partners to spur climate action.

In a lively plenary panel discussion with University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth President Robert Johnson, Bennington College President Mariko Silver, Truckee Meadows Community College President Karin Hilgersom and Second Nature President Tim Carter, President Napolitano highlighted the work of the UC3 coalition in its inaugural year.

She reported that the coalition has grown by six new members since its launch, to a total of 19 climate-focused research universities spanning the United States, Canada and Mexico. In 2018, members hosted a series of forums that brought together more than 2,600 leaders from the public, private and academic sectors to collaborate on innovative climate solutions. The group released a progress report outlining steps communities can take to raise the bar on climate solutions.

President Napolitano also spotlighted UC’s robust institutional commitments under the UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative. In 2018, the University pledged to buy 100 percent clean energy for its 10 campuses and five medical centers by 2025 – the same year it has committed to achieve carbon neutrality in its operations. In a testament to UC’s leadership on climate, the State of California recently awarded $12 million to three UC-led research projects that aim to develop clean technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and advance equitable outcomes for vulnerable communities.

In response to an audience question, President Napolitano affirmed her belief that universities should expand global partnerships that support joint research projects, faculty and student collaborations and curricular development on climate and sustainability. She also reiterated the importance of universities serving as hubs of expertise and as community conveners with the power to accelerate community climate goals.

Learn more about UC’s Carbon Neutrality Initiative.

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