Carnegie Mellon University

Program for Deliberative Democracy

Department of Philosophy

Climate Change & The Campus

Universities can play a particularly valuable role in addressing climate change. As “mini-cities” they can account for a large percentage of a community’s greenhouse gas emissions. The energy used each day by thousands of students and employees to commute, to heat and cool buildings, to power sophisticated lab equipment, to light perfor­mance spaces and sports facilities, and to power every other function of a university all adds up to create a large “carbon footprint.”

But colleges and universities are also relatively free to set policies to manage their immediate impact on local environments. They can provide good opportunities to promote stewardship and innovation. Moreover, as an economic engine, an incubator of innovation, and as a resource for research, education, and community outreach, colleges and universities can also have an influence on public policy.

Thus the policies and practices adopted at a college or university can be expected to affect change at the personal and local level, perhaps influencing policy at the regional level as well. Finally, through education and research, our colleges and universities can develop the leaders, strategies, and relationships capable of influencing policies and practices at the national and international level