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Top Research Universities Announce Coalition to Accelerate Local Climate Action

BOSTON, MA – At the recent 2018 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit, a coalition of 13 leading North American research universities launched the University Climate Change Coalition, or UC3, a group committed to leveraging their research and resources to help communities accelerate climate action. UC3 members, a range of distinguished institutions spanning the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, include eight signatories to the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments, a signature Second Nature program in which university leaders commit to carbon neutrality and report publicly on their progress.

For more than a decade, the diverse institutions in Second Nature’s Climate Leadership Network have been pursuing carbon neutrality in campus operations, creating new climate solutions through innovative research, and preparing students to solve the urgent climate challenges of the 21st century.

UC3 builds upon this effort through a specific focus on the place-based strengths of research institutions. In launching UC3, the initial cohort of member institutions has committed to mobilize their resources and expertise to help businesses, cities, and states achieve their climate goals through the following activities:

  • Cross-sector forums: Every UC3 institution will organize a climate change forum in 2018 to bring together community and business leaders, elected officials, and advocates. Forums will be tailored to local and regional objectives, focusing on research-driven policies and solutions to assist various communities.
  • 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.

“The University of California system is thrilled to partner with this group of preeminent research universities on an issue that has long been a major strategic priority for all of our institutions,” says President Janet Napolitano. “No one is better positioned than we are to scale up research-based climate solutions.”

All UC3 members have already pledged to reduce their institutional 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. The majority of UC3 members are part of the Climate Leadership Network and report their progress on an annual basis, publicly available on the Second Nature Reporting Platform.

As the network coordinator of UC3, Second Nature brings extensive experience in scaling climate initiatives across hundreds of institutions across the country in the Climate Leadership Network. Building on recent work with We Are Still In and America’s Pledge, Second Nature will connect UC3 institutions with the government and business leaders from these networks so the universities can help them meet current climate action goals and set more ambitious targets going forward.

"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.

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. Coalition members bring to 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.

Second Nature President Tim Carter notes, “For the past decade, the Climate Leadership Network has built an infrastructure for scaling climate action within the higher education sector. We believe that climate action can also be accelerated through higher education and UC3 is a great prototype for how this could happen within research universities.”

Participating UC3 Institutions include:
Arizona State University
California Institute of Technology
Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey
The Ohio State University
The State University of New York (SUNY) system
La Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
The University of British Columbia
The University of California system
University of Colorado, Boulder
University of Maryland, College Park
The University of New Mexico
The University of Toronto
The University of Washington