Image: Christopher Harting/AboveSummit
Image: Christopher Harting/AboveSummit

On October 21, MIT’s senior officers released the Institute’s plan for action on climate change.

In a letter, President L. Rafael Reif offered his thanks to members of the Climate Change Conversation Committee, as well as the student-led group Fossil Free MIT, for their efforts in bringing the issue of climate change to the top of MIT’s institutional agenda. He also urged all members of the MIT community to take action and “join us in rising to this historic challenge.”

More than a year in the making, the five-year plan aims to intensify MIT’s impact in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately achieving a zero-carbon energy system. Such efforts will require close collaboration with industry and government. These efforts include:

  • research to further understand climate change and advance solutions to mitigate and adapt to it;
  • the acceleration of low-carbon energy technology via eight new research centers;
  • the development of enhanced educational programs on climate change;
  • new tools to share climate information globally; and
  • measures to reduce carbon use on the MIT campus.

The plan also explains the decision not to divest MIT’s endowment of investments in fossil fuel companies, a key aim of the group Fossil Free MIT. While acknowledging that some companies in the industry have acted irresponsibly, the plan states, ” “We believe that divestment—a dramatic public disengagement—is incompatible with the strategy of engagement with industry to solve problems that is at the heart of today’s plan. Combatting climate change will require intense collaboration across the research community, industry and government.”

MIT Vice President for Research Maria Zuber will play a key role in leading the research and outreach required to ensure the plan’s success.

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