The University of California today unveiled the University Climate Change Coalition, or UC3, a bold new coalition of 13 leading North American research universities that will prototype a collaborative model designed to help local communities achieve their climate goals and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon future.

UCLA is already leading the way in leveraging the academic power and resources of a premier research university to help its surrounding communities achieve a cleaner and more sustainable future. The Sustainable LA Grand Challenge is a UCLA-wide research initiative to move L.A. to 100 percent renewable energy and 100 percent local water while enhancing ecosystem health by 2050.

“With UCLA’s Sustainable LA Grand Challenge to transform greater Los Angeles into a sustainable megacity by 2050, we are already at the forefront of providing the research, policies and community-based climate plans that we need,” said Mark Gold, UCLA associate vice chancellor for environment and sustainability.

In launching UC3, an initial cohort of distinguished universities from the United States, Canada and Mexico has committed to mobilize their resources and expertise to accelerate local and regional climate action in partnership with businesses, cities and states.

Two of the coalition’s major initiatives in its first year include:

Cross-sector forums: 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.

Coalition climate mitigation and adaptation report: 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.

All UC3 members have already pledged to reduce their institutional carbon footprints, with commitments ranging from making more climate-friendly investments to becoming operationally carbon neutral.

“The University of California system is thrilled to partner with this group of preeminent research universities on an issue that has long been a major strategic priority for all of our institutions,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. Napolitano discussed the coalition today at the Second Nature Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit in Tempe, Arizona, where she was joined by by Arizona State University President Michael Crow, University of Colorado Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano, Ohio State University President Michael Drake and Stony Brook University President Samuel Stanley.

“No one is better positioned than we are to scale up research-based climate solutions,” Napolitano said.

The UC3 participating universities are:

  • Arizona State University
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Tecnológico de Monterrey
  • La Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • The Ohio State University
  • The State University of New York
  • The University of British Columbia
  • The University of California
  • University of Colorado, Boulder
  • University of Maryland, College Park
  • The University of New Mexico
  • The University of Toronto
  • The University of Washington

“Together, our universities can share best practices and impact public policy on a much larger scale in order to better equip communities in North America and beyond with climate adaptation and resilience tools and solutions,” Gold said. “UCLA and our partner universities are leading by example to address climate change.”

UC3 will operate in close partnership with Second Nature’s Climate Leadership Network, a group of hundreds of colleges and universities that have committed to taking action on climate.

Harnessing the resources and convening power of member institutions, the coalition will work to inform and galvanize local, regional and national action on climate change. Coalition members will bring to these efforts a critical body of expertise in areas including advanced climate modeling, energy storage systems, next generation solar cells and devices, energy-efficiency technologies, biofuels, smart grids, environmental regulatory policies, and more.

“Research universities play an important role in creating new knowledge, convening thought leadership, and serving as long-term community members. By applying these strengths to locally relevant climate challenges, we see transformative potential for accelerating climate solutions in these locations in a way that couldn’t happen if the institutions and sectors continued to act on their own,” said Timothy Carter, president of Second Nature.

Jeff Moe, global director of energy policy and product advocacy at the Center for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability at Ingersoll Rand, also applauded the effort’s emphasis on cross-sector partnerships. Ingersoll Rand works with research universities to develop technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“UC Davis analyzed how ice energy and chilled water energy storage technologies can alleviate the strain on the electrical grid during the hottest day in a decade without compromising comfort in commercial buildings,” Moe said. “This analysis demonstrates how universities and companies can work together to identify a path forward to accelerate grid decarbonization and global reduction of GHG emissions.”

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.

The University of California is working to become carbon neutral in its operations by 2025, in line with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and the Under2 MOU for subnational climate leaders. Despite increased student enrollment, UC has reduced its systemwide emissions by 15 percent since 2009 through energy efficiency gains and the adoption of solar and other renewable energy generation. In 2016, the system made the largest solar purchase ever by a U.S. university.

“The UC3 coalition believes that addressing climate change is an area where some of the world’s greatest research institutions can, and must, lead,” Napolitano said.

Learn more about the University of California’s carbon neutrality and sustainability efforts.