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President Price announces further details, goals of Duke Climate Commitment

<p>Brian Murray, interim director for the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment &amp; Sustainability, moderating a panel from Thursday's Duke Climate Commitment announcement with Ben Abram, Pratt ’07, Alison Taylor, Trinity ’84 and Claire Wang, Trinity ’19.</p>

Brian Murray, interim director for the Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability, moderating a panel from Thursday's Duke Climate Commitment announcement with Ben Abram, Pratt ’07, Alison Taylor, Trinity ’84 and Claire Wang, Trinity ’19.

Duke President Vincent Price announced new “specific, measurable commitments on climate” under the Duke Climate Commitment in a Tuesday email. 

The commitments are divided into five elements — empowering bold thinkers, transforming teaching and learning, renewing campus community, forging partnerships in Durham and engaging Duke’s global network. 

Described as “both aspirational and inclusive,” the goals will be tracked on the University’s Climate Commitment website.

Last September, Duke formally announced its Climate Commitment with the backing of $36 million in initial gifts. Tuesday’s email helped clarify parts of the original announcement by providing more specific details and goals for the “coming months and years.” 

“We recognize that this initiative may evolve and will take time to implement, and we will only succeed through the collective action of our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends,” Price wrote. The email did not specify a timeline for these goals. 

Empowering bold thinkers 

The University will expand its climate research efforts while supporting new climate initiatives, such as the Climate Research Innovation Seed Program, University-Wide Collaboration Grants on Climate Change and Data Expeditions

The University will also launch the Climate and Sustainability Teaching Fellows Program to encourage the incorporation of climate and sustainability into classes and offer resources for students, faculty and staff to prepare for a climate-centered workplace. It also aims to “use Duke’s campus as a living laboratory” through an expansion of the Campus as Lab program. 

Transforming teaching and learning 

Duke is committed to researching career support students might need to enter the workforce prepared with the skills to engage in combating climate change. 

The email also stated that Duke will further the impact of UNIV102: Let’s Talk about Climate Change by partnering with schools across the University to “infuse climate and sustainability into educational programs.” 

Renewing campus community 

Under the goal of “renew[ing] our campus community,” the University will “continue working with DUMAC to support endowment investments in sustainability, in accordance with the Guideline on Investment Responsibility adopted by the Board of Trustees.” 

The University also pledged to “continue progress for carbon neutrality” as outlined in the 2019 Climate Action Plan Update, to develop a Duke Sustainable Fleet and Electric Vehicle Charging Plan, and to explore opportunities to “infuse sustainability further into Duke’s supply chain through campus policies and contract language.”

In the email, Price also committed to building on the “43% greenhouse gas emissions reductions to date” as the University navigates challenges brought upon by the pandemic. The emphasis will be on making campus energy usage more efficient, using off-campus solar and renewable natural gas, and maintaining the emissions reductions from limited travel during the pandemic. 

The updates also said the University will explore how the Duke Health system can support the goals of the Climate Commitment. This comes just months after a Ways and Means report revealed that the U.S. healthcare system creates about 10% of national greenhouse gas emissions.

Partnering with purpose 

The email promised to strengthen relationships with the City of Durham through the Office of Durham and Community Affairs’ Strategic Community Impact Plan. Additionally, the update committed to “engag[ing] with local, state, and federal policymakers” and working more closely with “green entrepreneurs, investors, and industry leaders.”

Engaging global networks

The University also hopes to connect with alumni by inviting those involved in climate and sustainability to “connect with our education, research and engagement efforts on campus and beyond.”


Audrey Wang | University News Editor

Audrey Wang is a Trinity sophomore and a university news editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.

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