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Climate Justice

Student rally for climate action on Magill Walk.

Student rally for climate action on Magill Walk. 

The climate emergency is an unprecedented challenge and a defining issue of our time with broad implications for social justice, human rights, and ecological and public health.

As an educational institution committed to the greater good, and with recognition of diverse voices that make up our community and the communities around us, Swarthmore is committed to playing a leadership role in the transition to a just and sustainable world.

Climate Action Planning

Swarthmore is working to address the climate crisis in a variety of ways. Following then-President Rebecca Chopp’s signature of the American College & University Presidents' Climate Commitment (now the Carbon Leadership Commitment) in 2010, Swarthmore developed a greenhouse gas inventory [pdf] and convened a Climate Action Planning Committee to create a Climate Action Plan [pdf] for the College. The greenhouse gas inventory is updated every year, and is publicly available through Second Nature’s reporting platform

Carbon Neutrality

The College has committed to achieving carbon neutrality no later than 2035. In support of this commitment, we have undertaken an extensive energy master planning process, called the Roadmap to Zero, which charts our path to eliminating our Scope 1 and 2 emissions on campus. Read more about the decarbonizing Swarthmore’s energy systems here

Carbon Charge Program

In order to support emissions reductions on campus, educate our campus community, and support broader policy action in the face of the climate crisis, Swarthmore implemented an internal Carbon Charge Program in 2016. This award-winning program consists of two components: an internal carbon fee on College departments, and a shadow price used in capital planning decisions. Learn more here

Climate Emergency Declaration

President Valerie Smith underscored Swarthmore’s commitment to climate action in September 2019 by signing the Sustainable Development Goals Climate Emergency Letter, adding the College to the growing list of more than 160 higher and further education institutions around the world that have collectively declared a global climate emergency. According to President Smith, “The climate crisis poses an unprecedented challenge to our global society — a challenge that we must meet with urgency and action. Institutions of higher learning are uniquely positioned to facilitate informed discussions of this crisis and ways it can be addressed.”

Climate Crisis Strategy

To explore how the College responds to the urgency of climate change within the context of our mission, the Office of Sustainability facilitated input from students, alumni, faculty, campus departments, and members of the Ecosphere committees to develop a Climate Crisis Strategy in 2018-2019. Through open collaborative conversations, work sessions, and sharing at departmental meetings, hundreds of community members provided feedback. A current draft of this strategy is available here