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Middlebury President Laurie Patton has joined fellow higher education leaders in signing a call to action to confront the impact of global climate change.

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Middlebury Joins “Call to Action for Accelerating Equitable and Just Climate Solutions”

February 27, 2019

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – President Laurie Patton has joined with fellow higher education leaders from across the country to endorse the “Call to Action: Guiding Principles for Accelerating Equitable and Just Climate Solutions.” The joint declaration, announced at the 2019 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit in Tempe, Arizona, is in response to recent scientific reports that strongly advise unprecedented action in the next decade to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

The call provides eight guiding principles for higher education institutions to accelerate climate leadership with socially inclusive initiatives and cross-sector partnerships. 

“I am pleased to have Middlebury represented in this initiative, which both underscores the urgency of our challenge and provides practical and achievable actions,” said Patton. “It is imperative that we continue our leadership in sustainability, and the guidelines in this call to action align well with our Energy2028 goals.”

In late January, Middlebury announced its own ambitious plans to address the threats of climate change. The 10-year Energy2028 plan calls for complete renewable sourcing, cuts in consumption, phaseout of fossil fuel investments, and a focus on educational opportunities.

“The respected scientific community has shown us that the window of opportunity to act on climate change is narrow and it is now,” said Tim Carter, president of Second Nature, a sponsor of the summit. “That is why higher education leaders are calling for increased collective action amongst themselves and with other key players in business, government, and local communities to create the kind of transformative, just solutions that match the scale of the environmental challenges at hand.” 

The guiding principles of the new call to action are as follows:

1. Consistent with our sector’s mission, expand educational opportunities for future generations of climate leaders with new academic majors, cocurricular programs, and community engagement.

2. Review and refine our climate action plans to ensure our goals are consistent with benchmarks established by the best available science, reflect the urgency of the challenge, and emphasize inclusivity and equity. Mobilize institutional resources to invest in transformative climate solutions, demonstrate what is possible, and stimulate widespread market adoption.

3. Leverage our role as anchor institutions and engaged members of our communities to drive solutions that serve all, especially those who are disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change.

4. Account for the full, long-term costs of our institutional activities, including those that negatively impact people and the planet, and strive to measure, internalize, and avoid these costs to the greatest extent possible.

5. Create applied research and/or educational initiatives that support our public sector’s climate goals and explore enhancement opportunities that support the development of vibrant communities, economic prosperity, and social equity.

6. Host and participate in cross-sector climate activities that facilitate open exchanges of ideas and foster civil dialogue while striving to ensure all members of the community are represented.

7. Advocate for climate policies that support equitable and just climate solutions, consider climate impacts in the institution’s goals at all levels of decision making, and lend support to other leaders who are advocating for shared outcomes.

8. Consider ways to align endowment investments with scenarios for meeting science-based climate goals and transitioning to a low-carbon economy by reducing climate risk in the portfolio, investing in inclusive climate solutions, and engaging with companies and the finance sector to accelerate equitable climate actions.

For more information, read the full Call to Action. Read more about Middlebury’s Energy2028 plan.


Thank you to President Patton and all who participated. This represents another step forward. Keep up the good work!

by Dean Alper (not verified)

Why can we come up with solar panels that will not only tip to maximize the sun's angle but one that will flip 180 degrees, at least in very clear spots, to catch both the rays of the rising and setting sun, east to west?

by sally laubin jones (not verified)

The 10-year plan is ambitious and exciting, and I'm a fan of the call to action. After the dramatic increase in Vermont's own greenhouse gas production following the closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear facility, it is crystal clear that solutions need not only sound good, but must effective move towards the goal. As for battery-operated cars, let's all please remember the extremely resource-intensive process involved in manufacturing batteries on a scale necessary to fuel a passenger vehicle, and the subsequently extended time frame (relative to an economy-sized gas burner, for example) for breaking even in terms of
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total carbon footprint. Legislation that mandates everyone go out and buy a plugin does not actually solve anything until we have a "green" way to mine/process/assemble energy storage devices at scale. The same goes for certain solar panel manufacturing processes, so again be careful about incentives that lead to covering every roof with solar panels until some version of "farm-to-fork" standards are built out for consumer goods. So what I'm saying is that I love the purpose and end goal, and we need to be darn sure that any "solution" is actually one.
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by Mark Raskopf (not verified)

Thank you for joining nationwide academic institutions to lead the way to a carbon drawdown economy. There will one naysayers but this remains the largest issue to solve in the 21st Century and therefore by far the largest career opportunity for Middlebury alums in their careers as we remake everything in the economy for carbon drawdown. Taking an aggressive stance on carbon drawdown in every respect is both courageous and a necessity for all of us. Bravo Middlebury!

by Mark B (not verified)