Mission and History

The American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) is a high-visibility effort to address global climate disruption undertaken by a network of colleges and universities that have made institutional commitments to eliminate net greenhouse gas emissions from specified campus operations, and to promote the research and educational efforts of higher education to equip society to re-stabilize the earth’s climate. Its mission is to accelerate progress towards climate neutrality and sustainability by empowering the higher education sector to educate students, create solutions, and provide leadership-by-example for the rest of society.

The ACUPCC provides a framework and support for America’s colleges and universities to implement comprehensive plans in pursuit of climate neutrality. The Commitment recognizes the unique responsibility that institutions of higher education have as role models for their communities and in educating the people who will develop the social, economic and technological solutions to reverse global warming and help create a thriving, civil and sustainable society.

ACUPCC institutions have agreed to:

  • Complete an emissions inventory.
  • Within two years, set a target date and interim milestones for becoming climate neutral.
  • Take immediate steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by choosing from a list of short-term actions.
  • Integrate sustainability into the curriculum and make it part of the educational experience.
  • Make the action plan, inventory and progress reports publicly available.

The college and university presidents and chancellors who are joining and leading the Commitment believe that exerting leadership in addressing climate disruption is an integral part of the mission of higher education and 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, business and local communities.

The ACUPCC originated from planning sessions among a group of college and university presidents and their representatives, Second Nature, ecoAmerica and AASHE at the AASHE conference in October 2006 at Arizona State University. Twelve presidents agreed to become founding signatories and launched the ACUPCC in early December of 2006 by sending a letter to nearly 400 of their peers inviting them to join the initiative.

The twelve founding signatories of the ACUPCC are:

  • Loren Anderson, President Pacific Lutheran University
  • Michael Crow, President Arizona State University
  • Nancy Dye, President Oberlin College
  • Jo Ann Gora, President Ball State University
  • David Hales, President College of the Atlantic
  • Bernard Machen, President University of Florida
  • Gifford Pinchot III, President Bainbridge Graduate Institute
  • Kathleen Schatzberg, President Cape Cod Community College
  • Mary Spilde, President Lane Community College
  • Douglas Treadway, President Ohlone College
  • Darroch Young, Chancellor Los Angeles Community College District
  • Paul Zingg, President California State University, Chico

By March 31, 2007, 152 presidents and chancellors representing the spectrum of higher education had become charter signatories of the ACUPCC. At that time, the expanded signatory group sent a packet of information to their peers at over 3,500 institutions, asking them to sign the Commitment. In June of 2007, with the signatory group up to 284 institutions, the ACUPCC was officially launched to the public at the first annual Climate Leadership Summit.

The proper role of colleges and universities is to lead the way by committing to climate neutrality, developing smart and farsighted plans to execute that goal, and equipping students for leadership in the challenges and opportunities ahead.
—David W. Orr, Sears Professor, Oberlin College
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