UC Merced student works on campus sustainability

Credit: University of California

UC Merced student Andrew John De Los Santos working on campus sustainability as a recycling and composting intern last fall

UC's commitment

As part of its White House American Campuses Act on Climate pledge, UC committed to:

  • Achieve carbon neutrality by 2025
  • Make carbon neutrality and sustainability part of the educational experience for students
  • Expand research in carbon neutrality and climate resilience
  • Invest at least $1 billion of its endowment and pension fund over the next 5 years in solutions to global climate change

For more details, see the full text of UC’s climate pledge and the White House fact sheet on the American Campus Act on Climate Pledge.

University of California President Janet Napolitano, together with chancellors from all 10 UC campuses, joined the White House and universities around the country today in urging the world's leaders to take decisive action on climate change.

In signing the White House American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge, UC joined over 200 US colleges and universities ­— representing more than 3.3 million students — in a unified commitment to combat climate change.

The pledge, part of the first White House American Campuses Act on Climate day-of-action, seeks to amplify the voice of the higher education community across the U.S. and the important role it can play in the transition to a sustainable, carbon-neutral future.

The pledge urges world leaders to produce an ambitious agreement to combat climate change at the upcoming COP-21 United Nations Climate Conference in Paris, but is also a commitment to take local action, no matter what happens at the Paris talks. Pledge signers agreed to accelerate their transition to low-carbon energy while promoting sustainable practices across their campuses.

“Addressing these challenges, and reducing our carbon footprint, is a moral imperative,” Napolitano said in addressing the UC Carbon and Climate Neutrality Summit in San Diego last month.

UC’s climate pledge

For UC, there was no impediment to signing the White House’s pledge: The university already has independently committed to climate change and sustainability measures that go well beyond the promises in the pledge. By 2025, UC is committed to emitting zero net greenhouse gases, becoming the first major university system to achieve carbon neutrality, and has pledged to invest at least $1 billion of the university’s endowment and pension funds over the next five years in solutions to global climate change, as part of the White House’s Clean Energy Investment Initiative.

UC’s Carbon Neutrality Initiative builds on the university's pioneering work on climate research and furthers its leadership in sustainable business practices. UC is improving its energy efficiency, developing new sources of renewable energy and enacting a range of related strategies to cut carbon emissions.

UC Irvine Vice Chancellor Wendell Brase, co-chair of President Napolitano’s Global Climate Leadership Council, is attending today’s White House roundtable — including campus and business leaders, White House officials and celebrities — focused on best practices to promote sustainability and address climate change on college campuses. Events from the day can be followed on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook with the hashtag #ActOnClimate.