Conversation on Climate Event with Vice President Kamala Harris

Statement delivered by Provost Laurie McCauley for Santa J. Ono

President Ono truly wanted to be here with us today. However, he recently tested positive for COVID. So following U-M protocol, he is isolating. President Ono is in good spirits, resting, and eager to return.

These remarks are intended to express his thoughts, but reflect my sentiments as well.

Madam Vice President, distinguished leaders and honored guests, it is my profound pleasure to welcome you to the University of Michigan.

Vice President Harris, thank you for joining us today.

I’d also like to welcome:

  • Secretary Granholm
  • Senator Stabenow
  • Congresswoman Dingell and
  • Ann Arbor Mayor Taylor

Madam Vice President, before you are brilliant scholars and instructors, selfless and committed staffers, and students whose passion, energy and commitment will lead our footsteps in finding solutions for our greatest global challenges.

In your 2022 National Security Strategy, you properly described the climate crisis as “the existential challenge of our time.”

Your administration is putting that commitment into action.

And we are proud to join with you, in leadership, scholarship and service.

In 2021, we committed to achieving carbon neutrality on all three of our campuses, Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint and encompassing Michigan Medicine and Michigan Athletics.

Today we are on pace to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions from campus sources and purchased electricity by 50% by 2025.

We have also taken an innovative approach to investing and are pursuing a net-zero endowment by 2050, which considers all the greenhouse gas emissions from all the university’s investments.

Countless students, staff and faculty drive our work. U-M offers more than 100 student organizations focusing on sustainability or the environment.

We’re also proud of our more than 7,000 certified Planet Blue Ambassadors, who advance sustainability through their studies, work and life at U-M.

We’re building on multidisciplinary initiatives like the Graham Sustainability Institute and the Erb Institute, and launching new efforts like the Institute for Energy Solutions, MI Hydrogen, and the Carbon Neutrality Acceleration Program.

We offer more than 800 sustainability courses across our schools and colleges, and our School for Environment and Sustainability has been a pioneer in environmental education, research and activism for more than a century.

U-M serves as the lead institution of the University Climate Change Coalition.

We are also fully engaged in many other collaborations with government, private sector and university partners.

In addition, we’re working closely with the cities of Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn to advance shared priorities toward climate action.

The climate crisis is the challenge of our time, and I am convinced we can meet it together.

As we have seen with the recent news that the ozone layer is recovering, we have the power to unmake, to remake and to restore a better world. So Madame Vice President, thank you again. We look forward to our work together in the days ahead.