Elite US universities defy Trump on climate change

Presidents of 12 "Ivy Plus" institutions reaffirm commitment to tackling global warming

June 6, 2017
Climate change in action
Source: iStock

The most prestigious universities in the US have reaffirmed their commitment to tackling climate change, in spite of Donald Trump’s decision to pull the country out of the Paris Agreement.

In a joint statement, the heads of 12 leading US research universities – known as the “Ivy Plus” group – note the “scientific consensus is clear” that climate is changing largely because of “human activity”, and “universities have a critical role to play” in combating the issue.

The institutions – including Harvard University, Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology – pledge to continue to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions, to "advance evidence-based understanding of the causes and effects of climate change on the environment, the economy and public health", and to search for solutions.

“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,” the statement reads.

“Today, we reaffirm that commitment, which is consistent with the Paris Agreement and recognises 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.”

The statement comes days after Donald Trump announced he was pulling the US out of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to keep the global average temperature “well below” two degrees above pre-industrial levels, and “foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production”.

“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,” the statement continues. 

“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.”

The other members of the Ivy Plus group are: Brown University; Columbia University; Cornell University; Dartmouth College; Duke University; Georgetown University; Johns Hopkins University; the University of Pennsylvania; and Yale University.

john.elmes@timeshighereducation.com

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