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A Climate Change Milestone

Cambridge, Mass.

Dear Members of the Harvard Community,

I write today to update you on our progress in tackling climate change on campus. Thanks to the efforts of thousands of individuals across the University, Harvard has attained the goal we established in 2008 of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent from 2006 levels by 2016, inclusive of growth. 

Reaching this ambitious—and necessary—short-term goal required extraordinary collaboration among staff, students, and faculty, and I am grateful for their commitment to learning from one another, strengthening good practices, and developing and testing new approaches. The result of these efforts is a University-wide climate action plan that has become an important component of a broader Harvard University Sustainability Plan. Both plans were created by the Office for Sustainability in close cooperation with operational leaders across the University. 

Our work, however, has just begun. I have asked a Task Force comprising faculty, students, and administrators to determine the next phase of our climate commitment and report their recommendations to me by the end of the academic year. We will also expand our living lab initiatives, which encourage faculty and students to test emerging innovations on campus or in the surrounding community, with new funding for student research and a three-year, multi-disciplinary climate solutions course.

Harvard must continue to drive progress related to climate change—sharing what is known, expanding what is known, and acting on what is known. This common purpose has brought our community together in exciting new ways, and I thank everyone who has helped to ensure that we lead by doing, making the world better through research and teaching, through everyday actions and lifelong commitments. Climate change is a threat to our future, and it deserves nothing less than our best efforts in the present.

Drew Faust