Our Commitment To

Climate Response

We know that sea levels and CO2 levels are rising. We know that extreme weather events are increasing. The impacts of climate change are not only predictable in the long term, but also manifest now—from polar ice sheets to the coastal flooding in Florida. Climate change's causes are global and complex, yet its effects are local and immediate, threatening our coastlines, our food supply, our homes, our oceans, and the quality of all life.

Columbia is unquestionably a leader in climate-related work and home to the world's greatest community of climate experts. Their scientific discoveries, engineering breakthroughs, and policy recommendations are critical to the future of life on the planet. We are targeting solutions to problems like renewable energy and resilient cities as well as addressing issues of environmental justice and climate-related health. But there is much more to do, and do soon.

With the Earth Institute, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and collaborations spanning our campuses and the globe, Columbia has the scientific preeminence and interdisciplinary networks to lead in climate response. Our commitment is to ensuring that we also have the necessary focus and resources as we accelerate efforts to address one of humankind’s most urgent challenges.

While companies and governments have recently pledged to dramatically reduce emissions in the coming decades, the world has never burned more fossil fuels than it does today. Will we act on the scale and time frame required? Can we mobilize the human and financial resources needed immediately and for the long haul? Can we develop the technologies and tools that will get us there—fast?

Building on Columbia’s decades-long excellence in climate and related disciplines—and with the support of our community of alumni and donors—we established the Columbia Climate School, the first purpose-built school of its kind anywhere on the planet. The School represents a new opportunity to harness the intellectual power of Columbia to make a real-world impact, forming the partnerships and teams that will generate the solutions we need.

The problems are so sweeping they can seem overwhelming. Yet our community continues to make progress that will put us on a different course. We are advising governments on evidence-based, high-impact climate policies. We are developing new technologies that pull carbon from the air and store it safely for the long term. We are rethinking how our food systems can remain resilient amid a growing global population and increased climate-related droughts. And we are committed to helping the world dramatically reduce carbon emissions on the time scale that will make a difference.

Through research, innovation, and education, as well as working with partners around the world, Columbia is demonstrating that climate change is not one but many problems, problems we must and can solve.

Columbia is transforming itself to meet our greatest challenge. Building on the strengths of our Earth Institute and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, we have launched the Columbia Climate School, the first new school at the University in a generation—and the first of its kind in higher education--and an enduring commitment to the future of life on Earth.

New and growing academic areas in climate solutions—such as climate finance, negative emissions, coastal viability, climate ethics, and renewable technologies—require the full intellectual expertise of a university. The Climate School will convene and empower these research teams like never before, enabling new partnerships both within Columbia and with industry, governments, and communities around the globe.

Across this great University, we are building the capacity of our faculty in disciplines from political science to public health, and forging a network of experts leading the charge against the rising tide of climate change. We are also rethinking what a climate curriculum should look like for the next century and beyond. What intellectual tools and key knowledge will our future leaders need to thrive in a world that continues to change? How can we foster optimism and entrepreneurship for a new generation?

By enlisting new donors and advocates for climate response, we will fuel the work of the greatest community of climate experts and their partners worldwide. Our scientists and engineers are discovering core facts and devising innovative solutions. Columbia architects are rethinking cities. We are home to climate law experts, journalists refining how to communicate climate issues to the public, economists who can understand climate-related decision-making, environmental justice specialists, and policy scholars who can shape actionable solutions.

Through this evolving effort, Columbia is renewing its commitment to finding and implementing urgently needed climate solutions while educating tomorrow’s climate leaders.

To meet the all-encompassing climate challenge, we need to act boldly and urgently. With the establishment of the Columbia Climate School, we are accelerating breakthroughs in finding climate solutions, engaging with communities, and educating climate leaders for a better future.

Alex N. Halliday
Key Facts

Faculty and researchers across Columbia are working on climate-related projects


American university in policy contributions to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


Years since the last time atmospheric CO2 was this high—a time when Florida was entirely under water

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