UCLA Chancellor Gene Block joined leaders in higher education from more than 35 states today calling on incoming president Donald Trump’s administration to protect the Earth’s climate. 

Chancellors and presidents from more than 170 colleges and universities signed on to the open letter calling for “aggressive climate action.”

Trump has at times described climate change as a hoax and proposed withdrawing from the historic Paris climate agreement signed at the annual United Nations climate conference in 2015. An overwhelming majority of scientists, including numerous UCLA researchers, agree that climate change is caused by humans and will result in dramatic, disruptive changes within this century. UCLA research has projected that without drastic action, Los Angeles will heat up an average of 4 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit by midcentury.

“As a university,” Block said, “we have a deep commitment to research innovative solutions for tomorrow, to serve the greater public good and to educate the leaders of future generations. Strong federal and international climate action is critical to this mission.”

The letter, organized by a diverse group of higher education institutions and the Boston-based nonprofit Second Nature, calls on Trump, the incoming Congress, and other elected officials to support participation in the Paris agreement, climate research and investment in the low-carbon economy.

“The upcoming transition of federal leadership presents a unique opportunity to address head-on the challenges of climate change by accelerating the new energy economy and creating strong, resilient communities,” wrote the group. “We are committed to developing and deploying innovative climate solutions that provide a prosperous future for all Americans.”

The group of schools expressed their alignment with the business and investment communities in supporting the science-based targets outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement. UCLA has been taking climate action for years, including voluntarily setting carbon neutrality goals, water-use reduction goals and zero-waste targets. UCLA also undertook the Sustainable LA Grand Challenge beginning in 2013, a university-wide research initiative to transition the Los Angeles region to 100 percent renewable energy, 100 percent local water and enhanced ecosystem health by 2050. 

A full list of the schools supporting the open letter can be found here

In a separate effort, UCLA civil and environmental engineering faculty and colleagues at six other UC campuses signed a letter urging the president-elect to continue climate change policies to protect the nation’s infrastructure.