North American universities announce University Climate Change Coalition (UC3)

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On February 6th, thirteen leading North American research universities announced the formation of a bold new University Climate Change Coalition, or UC3, committed to leveraging their research and resources to help communities accelerate climate action. Bringing together two million students, faculty and staff from distinguished institutions spanning the United States, Canada and Mexico, the UC3 coalition will work in close partnership with We Are Still In and America’s Pledge to help America’s climate leaders meet or exceed climate goals.

Five heads of participating UC3 institutions unveiled the launch of the coalition in a livestreamed press panel available here.

Together, President Janet Napolitano of the University of California System, ASU President Michael Crow, OSU President Michael Drake, CU Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano, and Stony Brook University President Samuel Stanley described the coalition and explained that by harnessing the unique resources and convening power of UC3 institutions, the coalition will work to inform and galvanize local, regional and national action on climate change.

“The UC3 coalition believes that addressing climate change is an area where some of the world’s greatest research institutions can, and must, lead,” said Napolitano.

The panel of university leaders made the theory of the case for their coalition, explaining how they bring together a critical body of expertise in areas including climate modeling, energy storage systems, next generation solar cells, energy-efficiency technologies, smart grids, transportation sector energy use, environmental regulatory policies, and more. The panel also made clear how each of their institutions has already pledged to reduce its carbon footprints, with commitments ranging from making more climate-friendly investments to becoming operationally carbon neutral, in line with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and the Under2 MOU for subnational climate leaders. Finally, the panel laid out the activities and plans they will pursue in 2018, including:

  • Arizona State University

  • California Institute of Technology

  • Tecnológico de Monterrey

  • La Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

  • The Ohio State University

  • The State University of New York

  • The University of British Columbia

  • The University of California

  • University of Colorado, Boulder

  • University of Maryland, College Park

  • The University of New Mexico

  • The University of Toronto

  • The University of Washington

  1. Cross-sector forums: Every UC3 institution will convene a climate change forum in 2018 to bring together community and business leaders, elected officials and other local stakeholders. Meetings will be tailored to meet local and regional objectives shared across sectors and will aim to speed the implementation of research-driven climate policies and solutions.

  2. Coalition climate mitigation and adaptation report: A coalition-wide report, to be released in late 2018, will synthesize the best practices, policies and recommendations from all UC3 forums into a framework for continued progress on climate change goals across the nation and the world.

UC3 forums will work closely with We Are Still In and America’s Pledge:

The UC3 hosted forums help deliver on one of three central pillars in We Are Still In’s strategic plan for the year and will play a key role in its campaign to increase non-federal climate action commitments in 2018. The 13 forums hosted by UC3 institutions, particularly the 10 forums currently planned in the United States, will connect We Are Still In signatories to the key stakeholders, experts and resources they need to reach their climate action objectives and put forward a robust ‘contribution’ towards the Paris Agreement.

The forums will help local communities identify capacity gaps and build partnerships across sectors to respond to them.

The Importance of Higher Education to Climate Action:

The announcement came at the 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit, the largest national gathering of higher education presidents, chancellors, trustees, and other senior leaders committed to accelerating climate solutions.

With a theme of “Crossing sectors and driving solutions,” the Summit will turn the WASI cross-sector alignment into performance and action. It will relate big ideas to tangible actions with senior leadership teams leaving the event well prepared to tackle some of the biggest climate challenges — individually, collectively with other campuses, and across sectors.

Working together with business, state and local leaders, the higher education sector can and will shape the future of America’s global climate leadership. After the US Administration’s announcement to withdraw from the international Paris Climate Agreement, Second Nature, the Climate Leadership Network, and other sector partners stepped in to fill the void through the We Are Still In (WASI) coalition.

"With global climate change accelerating, higher education is stepping up its mobilization of teaching, research and operational change. UC3 represents a comprehensive approach, uniting leaders from many sectors of society to inspire solutions and make informed policy recommendations. As a recognized national leader and advocate for environmental stewardship, Virginia Wesleyan University is proud to support and promote this initiative," notes President Scott Miller, incoming Chair of the Climate Leadership Steering Committee, the oversight body of the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments.

The UC3 institutions exemplify the essential contributions of the higher education sector to climate action. In 2016, the U.S.-based members of the UC3 coalition together performed about one-quarter of the environmental science research conducted by all U.S. institutions, according to data collected by the National Science Foundation. From 2012 to 2017, researchers at UC3 member institutions were responsible for 48,518 publications on climate science-related topics, including environmental science, agricultural and biological sciences, energy, engineering, earth and planetary sciences, and more. The potential of these institutions to accelerate climate action by banding together at an unprecedented scale of cooperation is now heightened heading into 2018.

Find out more about the coalition at the following website: secondnature.org/uc3-coalition/