Dear Alumni and Friends,

More than a half century ago, the University of Michigan hosted the nation’s first environmental teach-in, drawing more than 15,000 participants and the country’s preeminent leaders in environmentalism, politics, academia, business and labor. Through four days of programming and at least 125 separate events, the teach-in garnered an unprecedented level of attention to the problems facing our natural world – from pesticides to the future of the Great Lakes. 

In its coverage at the time, The New York Times said U-M’s “Teach-In on the Environment” had been “by any reckoning…one of the most extraordinary ‘happenings’ ever to hit the great American heartland: Four solid days of soul-searching, by thousands of people, young and old, about ecological exigencies confronting the human race.” 

It was a triumph for our campus and for the growing environmental movement.

Fifty-two Earth Days later, we face perhaps our most pressing challenge as a people — global climate change. According to scientists in a February report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), human-induced climate change is causing widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world, despite efforts to reduce the risks. One area where urgent action is needed is in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2021, the University of Michigan committed to achieving carbon neutrality across our three campuses. I’m pleased to share that our commitments exceed the guidelines put forth by the IPCC. Whereas the IPCC recommends that the world reduce emissions by 45% by 2030, we’re on pace to reduce Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2025.

Additionally, we announced last month that the university would soon be purchasing 100% of our electricity from renewable energy sources. We also are planning geothermal exchange systems for our buildings, purchasing electric buses and fitting more than 70 buildings across all three campuses with LED lighting.

I encourage you to look at our carbon neutrality goals and review our progress on the U-M Greenhouse Gas Reduction Dashboard. You can also learn more about how U-M is developing just solutions to society's most pressing environmental challenges at Planet Blue. These efforts are not only exciting. They are critically important to our collective future.