We can and should be a national and international climate leader. It’s good for our students, the Commonwealth, and the world.
Socially and environmentally responsible investing
Penn State’s $4.8 billion dollar endowment, invested in a diverse portfolio, supports an array of University scholarships and programs key to student success. But, with 7.3% of investments in real assets including coal and petroleum, some of the University’s current investments aren’t just betting against future generations and our planet: They’re also financially irresponsible, placing funds key to tuition affordability at the mercy of a volatile sector that underperforms fossil-free alternatives. In alignment with our peer institutions, we must invest transparently and responsibly in competitive, high-return assets that center social and environmental sustainability, securing the endowment’s long-term health and greater returns on investment, while making the University more attractive to donors. This includes divesting from fossil fuels.
Sustainable, carbon-neutral campuses
With 24 campuses across Pennsylvania, investments in sustainable campuses are investments in a sustainable Commonwealth. Existing practices, on the other hand, are costly: we spend millions of dollars in waste “tipping fees,” too-slowly shift to fiscally responsible renewable and low-energy infrastructure, and inadequately support local farms and thus the local economy. We have an opportunity to make climate-friendly and financially smart decisions. We must create new procurement policies to partner with vendors to limit waste at the source and thus reduce campus operation costs. We must make Penn State net-zero emissions by 2035. And we must support local farmers and the health and wellbeing of Pennsylvanians by prioritizing purchasing locally sourced, sustainably-produced food, including by codifying a quantitative goal based on the Real Food Standards and transparently tracking progress towards this goal.
Climate-focused education and research
Penn State has long been at the forefront of agricultural and engineering education. But the job market is changing. We must equip students with the skills required to succeed in the modern world. Our peer institutions are investing in climate research, developing climate institutes, and creating attractive, climate-focused faculty positions that pull away Penn State’s top scientists. Championing climate education and research enables us to remain competitive in student recruitment and student career outcome success. This includes establishing new degree programs and general education outcomes that center sustainability and climate science and eradicating fossil fuel influence on research.