Why Now?

Elizabeth Thomas.

Science

The data, research and scholarship are abundantly clear — we have ten years to make a substantial impact in mitigating the most catastrophic effects that will accompany a changing climate. The world’s scientific community (including many of our own leading researchers here at UB) have defined the problem, illustrated what will happen if we do not adapt and most importantly created alternative pathways for us to pursue.

SUNY Chancellor.

Policy

New York State is leading the nation in our fight against climate change. The newly-enacted Climate Leadership Community Protection Act has created a legal framework that greatly increases support for UB’s climate action. In addition, the State University of New York and numerous other higher education organizations and partners are implementing far-ranging low carbon policies to support our common objective.

people talking a meeting.

The Business Case

The market is shifting. Companies and organizations are recognizing the risks that extreme weather events create for their infrastructure, supply chains and customers. But they are also seeing opportunity to create new and innovative solutions, recruit and retain forward thinking purpose based talent, and advance sustainable development to establish a more robust and effective business ecosystem.

Students at solar strand.

Economics

The Brookings Institution estimates that we are on track to see an annual 2% drop in GDP as the effects of climate change become more pronounced. But the good news is the economics are shifting and numerous low carbon technologies are now becoming competitive and cheaper than their fossil fuel counterparts — nowhere is this more prevalent than throughout the clean energy sector.

Students showing hand gesture of horns up.

Demand

Our world is demanding climate action, and it’s being led by our students. While support for lowering emissions permeates all generations, millennials and Generation Z are leading the charge — 40% of them cite global climate change as the most important issue we currently face and 31% are actively boycotting companies and organizations that do not advance climate neutrality principles.

Sadie at Climate Strike.

The Moral Imperative

The problem of climate change is the problem of how and whether human beings can live together sustainably on this planet. It is forcing us to confront key issues centered on equity, personal responsibility, democratic institutions, collaboration and hope. At its core, climate change is about us and who we need to become.

We live in complicated and changing times — perhaps more so than at any other period in history. We are starting to transition to systems that are more circular, regenerative, inclusive, effective and that mirror the Haudenosaunee principle: to make every decision considering its effect on seven generations.

This change is beginning to happen because we are listening to our scientists who are communicating that if we wait until we can feel the impact, it will be too late to stop it. We are seeing the economic value and business case that is being created by reducing our emissions. New York State is establishing the legal and regulatory framework to further UB’s work. Our students and young people are demanding immediate action and, most importantly, our lives depend upon our action.

The synergy of these key factors has made this the perfect time to update our decade-old climate action plan. We continue to stand on the sound methodology of this work and, most importantly, the science-based goal of achieving climate neutrality by 2030.