UW News

February 6, 2018

University of Washington, other leading research universities form international coalition to speed local climate action

UW News

The University of Washington joins 12 other leading North American research universities in the new University Climate Change Coalition, or UC3, a group committed to leveraging its research and resources to help communities accelerate climate action.

The coalition, which launched Feb. 6 at the 2018 Second Nature Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit in Tempe, Arizona, includes universities from the U.S., Canada and Mexico that have committed to mobilize their resources and expertise to accelerate local and regional climate action in partnership with businesses, cities and states.

clean energy testbeds

Researchers working at the UW Clean Energy Institute’s Washington Clean Energy Testbeds.Matt Hagen/Clean Energy Institute/University of Washington

For more than a decade, member schools have pursued carbon neutrality in campus operations. The schools are also creating new climate solutions through innovative research and are preparing students to solve the urgent climate challenges of the 21st century.

“Climate change isn’t a future problem — it is affecting people’s health and well-being right now. Universities have the capability to not only help understand the effects of climate change, but to also develop the technologies and policies to reduce carbon emissions. The University of Washington is proud to be part of the University Climate Change Coalition and to renew our commitment to protecting the health of our planet,” said UW President Ana Mari Cauce.

At an operational level, the UW is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, and 36 percent below 2005 levels by 2035, in accordance with laws passed by the Washington state Legislature in 2009. The university also is working to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, as technology developments allow.

using satellite technology

Researcher David Shean uses UW’s terrestrial laser scanner to measure surface elevation at the South Cascade Glacier.Alex Headman/USGS

The UW is also a leader in climate and clean energy research. The Clean Energy Institute supports the advancement of next-generation solar energy and battery materials and devices, as well as their integration with systems and the grid. The UW hosts the Environmental Innovation Challenge, a yearly competition for students to tackle some of the world’s most pressing environmental problems through innovation and entrepreneurship.

At the College of the Environment, organizations such as the Climate Impacts Group and EarthLab are tackling climate resiliency and our most pressing climate challenges through continued research, analysis and community partnerships. Hundreds of UW students, faculty and staff conduct research and projects on all seven continents and all five oceans, focusing on critical issues such as ocean acidification, freshwater resources, natural hazards and the disappearance of ice in polar regions.

“UW scientists are leaders in groundbreaking, collaborative research to advance climate science, understand impacts and build pathways to solutions. We’re excited by the new partnerships and opportunities that the University Climate Change Coalition offers. Working together will strengthen our ability to sustain the health and wellbeing of our communities and our planet,” said UW College of the Environment Dean and Mary Laird Wood Professor Lisa Graumlich.


The UW’s IsoLab uses high-tech instruments to analyze the water and gas trapped in ancient ice cores, to help understand past climates.Mark Stone/University of Washington

In addition to the UW, other coalition members are Arizona State University, California Institute of Technology, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, La Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ohio State University, the State University of New York, University of British Columbia, University of California, University of Colorado, Boulder, University of Maryland, College Park, University of New Mexico, and University of Toronto.

Every UC3 institution will convene a climate change forum in 2018 to bring together community and business leaders, elected officials and other local stakeholders. Meetings will be tailored to meet local and regional objectives shared across sectors and will aim to speed the implementation of research-driven climate policies and solutions.

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.

In 2016, the U.S.-based members of the UC3 coalition together performed about one-quarter of the environmental science research conducted by all U.S. institutions, according to data collected by the National Science Foundation. From 2012 to 2017, researchers at UC3 member institutions were responsible for 48,518 publications on climate science-related topics, including environmental science, agricultural and biological sciences, energy, engineering, earth and planetary sciences and more.

This post was adapted from University of California and Second Nature news releases.