Columbia Joins Coalitions Affirming Commitment to Address Climate Change

June 05, 2017

President Lee C. Bollinger has issued the following statement:

Given Columbia's singular involvement with issues of climate science, in every dimension and at every level, the University has assumed a special role in the efforts throughout the world to come to terms with the impact of climate change. We have long worked with former Mayor Michael Bloomberg on sustainability issues, we have committed ourselves to reducing the University's own carbon footprint and divested our endowment from thermal coal producers. We are therefore compelled to join in supporting ongoing efforts under the Paris accord to hold warming to under 2°C and accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy that will benefit our collective future.


Here is the full statement, issued June 5, by the presidents of 12 leading U.S. research universities:

In 2015, we were proud to be among 318 institutions of higher education in signing the American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge, affirming our commitment to accelerate the global transition to low-carbon energy while enhancing sustainable and resilient practices on our campuses.

Today we reaffirm that commitment, which is consistent with the Paris Agreement and recognizes the concerted action that is needed at every level to slow, and ultimately prevent, the rise in the global average temperature and to facilitate the transition to a clean energy economy. Universities have a critical role to play in reducing our own greenhouse gas emissions; continuing to advance evidence-based understanding of the causes and effects of climate change on the environment, the economy, and public health; and developing solutions.

The scientific consensus is clear that the climate is changing largely due to human activity, that the consequences of climate change are accelerating, and that the imperative of a low carbon future is increasingly urgent. As institutions of higher education, we remain committed to a broad-based global agreement on climate change and will do our part to ensure the United States can meet its contribution.

Christina Paxson, President, Brown University
Lee C. Bollinger, President, Columbia University
Martha E. Pollack, President, Cornell University
Philip J. Hanlon, President, Dartmouth College
Richard H. Brodhead, President, Duke University
John J. DeGioia, President, Georgetown University
Drew Gilpin Faust, President, Harvard University
Ronald J. Daniels, President, Johns Hopkins University
L. Rafael Reif, President, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Marc Tessier-Lavigne, President, Stanford University
Amy Gutmann, President, University of Pennsylvania
Peter Salovey, President, Yale University


As noted in President Bollinger's statement, Columbia also joined the "We Are Still In" letter from the Second Nature coalition, which includes not only leaders in higher education, but also state and local governments, businesses and mission-driven organizations. Click here to read the letter.

To learn more about Columbia's commitment to sustainability, visit the University's Office of Environmental Stewardship.