Statement from Chancellor Wrighton regarding President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Change Accord

On behalf of the Washington University in St. Louis community, I wish to communicate our disappointment that President Trump has withdrawn the United States from the 2015 Paris Agreement, the landmark climate change accord that committed the United States and nearly all nations of the world to take actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Washington University has historically been deeply involved in scientific and policy studies of climate change and its effects, and has a long commitment to teaching and education about issues related to the environment and global change. Through scientific discovery and exploration, we have supported findings that reveal the ramifications of global climate change and have been a leader in educating the public about these profound transformations.

In light of the President’s decision, Washington University reaffirms our obligation to undertake world-class research and education on global climate issues spanning all disciplines. Further, in its own operations Washington University will continue to invest in energy efficiency systems and renewable energy to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions.  Through the University’s International Center for Energy, Environment, and Sustainability (InCEES), the Washington University Climate Change Program, the Environmental Studies Program, the Institute for Public Health, and the Office of Sustainability, our faculty, staff and students will continue to focus our institutional leadership on issues of global sustainability here in St. Louis, across the United States, and around the world.

We recommit to our collaborations with the 32 partner institutions around the world in our McDonnell International Scholars Academy that have worked together for more than 10 years to address the issues associated with providing the energy the world needs without adverse effects on the environment and human health.  The McDonnell Academy Global Energy and Environment Partnership will remain a centerpiece of our international collaborations to address these challenges, and we will strive to expand the scope and depth of our research and education programs to address climate change.

In the near-term, Washington University is committed to mitigating the potentially devastating effects of climate change by reducing our carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. As part of the OneSTL regional sustainability effort, we are working closely with local government, industry, non-profit and institutional partners to adopt carbon dioxide reduction targets for the St. Louis region that are consistent with the Paris Agreement targets embraced earlier by the United States. In concert with our regional, national and international partners, we remain deeply committed to addressing climate change and the associated public health, economic and environmental challenges.

Washington University will remain committed to preparing the next generation of leaders to address the global challenges we face. Surely, advances in science and engineering will be needed to make progress, but we will also need leaders in business, urban and architectural design, social science, the humanities, and law and medicine. Indeed, the complexity and international nature of the global challenges will demand leadership from all disciplines and a willingness of our leaders to work across disciplinary boundaries.  Washington University leaders will engage with others to achieve the best possible outcomes for the global community.

Mark S. Wrighton
Chancellor

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