On June 5, 2007, Chancellor Robert Coombe of the University of Denver signed the Presidents' Climate Commitment. He stated "The DU community is concerned with global warming and vested in sustainability," Coombe says. "Universities should play an important role in building sustainability through continued efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
Video message from Chancellor Coombe
In the past few years more than 600 American University Presidents and Chancellors have signed the "Presidents Climate Commitment." The preface to that commitment states:
We, the undersigned presidents and chancellors of colleges and universities, are deeply concerned about the unprecedented scale and speed of global warming and its potential for large-scale, adverse health, social, economic and ecological effects. We recognize the scientific consensus that global warming is real and is largely being caused by humans. We further recognize the need to reduce the global emission of greenhouse gases by 80% by mid-century at the latest, in order to avert the worst impacts of global warming and to reestablish the more stable climatic conditions that have made human progress over the last 10,000 years possible.
While we understand that there might be short-term challenges associated with this effort, we believe that there will be great short-, medium-, and long-term economic, health, social and environmental benefits, including achieving energy independence for the U.S. as quickly as possible.
We believe colleges and universities must exercise leadership in their communities and throughout society by modeling ways to minimize global warming emissions, and by providing the knowledge and the educated graduates to achieve climate neutrality. Campuses that address the climate challenge by reducing global warming emissions and by integrating sustainability into their curriculum will better serve their students and meet their social mandate to help create a thriving, ethical and civil society. These colleges and universities will be providing students with the knowledge and skills needed to address the critical, systemic challenges faced by the world in this new century and enable them to benefit from the economic opportunities that will arise as a result of solutions they develop.
We further believe that colleges and universities that exert leadership in addressing climate change will stabilize and reduce their long-term energy costs, attract excellent students and faculty, attract new sources of funding, and increase the support of alumni and local communities.
By signing the Presidents' Climate Commitment, each University president or Chancellor agreed:
- Initiate the development of a comprehensive plan to achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible.
- Within two years of signing this document, develop an
institutional action plan for becoming climate neutral, which will
- A target date for achieving climate neutrality as soon as possible.
- Interim targets for goals and actions that will lead to climate neutrality
- Actions to make climate neutrality and sustainability a part of the curriculum and other educational experience for all students.
- Actions to expand research or other efforts necessary to achieve climate neutrality.
- Mechanisms for tracking progress on goals and actions.