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Office of Climate Action

Office of Climate Action

Rutgers and New Brunswick were hit by flooding along the Raritan River that shut down Route 18, River Road and other streets during Hurricane Ida.

A Comprehensive Strategic Climate Action Plan for Rutgers

"The plan lays out an ambitious, yet achievable and feasible, pathway for creating a carbon-neutral, more resilient Rutgers while advancing climate action across the state of New Jersey and across the world."

Climate Action Plan
President's Task Force on Carbon Neutrality and Climate Resilience

The Climate Action Plan

In 2021, Rutgers adopted a Climate Action Plan calling for the university to mobilize its academic, operational, and economic capacities to advance just, equitable climate solutions and help achieve national net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The community-developed plan recommended Rutgers establish an Office of Climate Action charged with helping the university work toward (or advance) the following goals related to climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation, and campus culture.

8
Sectoral work groups across an array of specialties collaborated on the Climate Action Plan
120+
Faculty, students, and staff from all four Chancellor units contributed to the Climate Action Plan
2040
Rutgers pledges to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040

Goal 1: Achieve Carbon Neutrality

Achieve carbon neutrality by 2040 and becoming carbon-negative—removing more greenhouse gases than we are putting into the atmosphere—no later than the university's 275th anniversary in 2041.

  • Reducing direct emissions from fossil fuel consumption 20% by 2030 and 100% by 2040 
  • Eliminating emissions associated with electricity purchased off the grid by 2030
  • Reducing indirect emissions associated with commuting, travel, and the supply chain 30% by 2030 
  • Expanding carbon sequestration by at least 2000 tonnes CO2-eq by 2030 and more thereafter
  • Employing third-party offsets as a complementary strategy of last resort to address remaining emissions
  • Using Rutgers’ economic and institutional capacities to advocate for addressing the societal choices that underlie indirect emissions 
Students walk under colorful trees on the on the Newark campus in the fall

Goal 2: Plan for Climate Adaptation

Work across campus and engage with our host communities to establish comprehensive plans for just and equitable climate adaptation.

This work will include developing a comprehensive resiliency, recovery, and adaptation plan compatible with carbon neutrality and prioritizing those areas with highest exposure and vulnerability and greatest adaptation potential.

Climate Town Hall Graphic

Goal 3: Build a Culture of Sustainability

Promptly establishing a high-level office which will build a culture of sustainability that integrates climate action into academic research, teaching, outreach, engagement, campus life, and university policy across Rutgers by:

  • Advocating for climate mobilization and sustainability at the highest levels of university leadership
  • Monitoring Climate Action Plan implementation and oversee regular updating of the Climate Action Plan
  • Convening and facilitating engagement of university, community, state, and industry stakeholders in university climate action
  • Coordinating, seeding, and facilitating research, teaching, and engagement that advances climate action and leverages university investments in climate action
Exterior of 330 Cooper Street student housing with blue sky and red NJ Transit Riverline tram passing by, 2014

Goal 4: Create Cross-Sectoral Collaboration

Foster the creation of educational opportunities for our students, economic opportunities for our host communities and New Jersey residents, and a global model for cross-sectoral collaboration to advance climate action.

The office will seek to leverage operational and policy changes to advance academic efforts, and academic efforts to advance operational and policy changes. Specific efforts the office could coordinate in order to achieve the goal of linking the university’s academic activities to climate action include:

  • Organizing a forum that brings together existing Rutgers programs that are focused on climate change, social equity, and economic development
  • Creating an easy entry point for students seeking to participate in research and engagement opportunities related to the goals of the Climate Action Plan
  • Developing and implementing courses or course modules that use the university or the state as living labs for climate actions
  • Encouraging the adoption of suitable promotion and tenure criteria, facilitate use-inspired, publicly engaged interdisciplinary climate scholarship that addresses the climate-related needs of the university and the state
  • Working with the Rutgers University Foundation and the Earth 2100 initiative, fundraise for cross-university cluster hires of (1) teaching faculty focused on linking teaching and university/state climate action and (2) tenure-track faculty focused on publicly engaged climate scholarship that integrates with university/state climate action
Nicole Deck, SEBS'19, and Travis Miles, Assistant Research Professor, using an operational ocean observing system.