Dear Tulane Community:
Many have said that we are a university on the front lines of climate change – bordered by the nation’s most threatened wetlands and positioned between the country’s most famous river and one of its largest lakes.
But the truth is, the frontlines of climate change and its impacts are everywhere. Hurricane Ida may have formed in the Caribbean, but it unleashed its fury in Louisiana as well as the Northeast. My home in New Orleans stayed dry while my old house in Philadelphia flooded. From east to west and north to south, in areas both coastal and inland, the effects of climate change – increased wildfires, rising sea levels, more severe weather – are felt everywhere.
This is why we are on our way to a carbon-neutral future at Tulane. Promoting environmental sustainability and confronting climate change have been top priorities of Tulane for decades. But our efforts in these critical areas recently received a major boost with the formation of a new partnership that will significantly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions while also fully supporting our vital research and educational missions.
This partnership, with one of the largest privately-owned engineering and contracting firms in the nation, will include the construction of a solar generation facility that will produce a significant portion of the energy needs for our uptown campus. It will also increase efficiency and resiliency and ensure that we are optimizing our energy use while hardening our power supply against disruptions caused by weather or other factors.
Achieving carbon neutrality is an urgent task. With this in mind, our new energy agreement compresses a decade of infrastructure improvements and technological upgrades into a few short years, allowing us to reach a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2025 and carbon neutrality by 2050 – both central goals of Tulane’s Climate Action Plan.
Addressing climate change at Tulane is a university-wide, multi-faceted and interdisciplinary effort that includes renowned environmental and energy studies programs as well as research to protect and restore our coastlands, combat the effects of sea-level rise, address subsidence and develop alternative fuels and energy-saving technologies. It is an endeavor that also includes encouraging the companies in which we invest to support new industries and technologies that will further the goal of a carbon-neutral economy.
We are also assembling a group of faculty experts, students and staff who will meet regularly with university leaders to be apprised of our latest initiatives on climate change and provide feedback on our next steps. With our vast multi-discipline expertise, our location in one of the world’s most environmentally significant areas and our continued university-wide commitment, we are well-positioned to be a leader in creating a better, more sustainable future for all.