Net Zero Emissions by 2050

Updated 10/12/23

Columbia University President Minouche Shafik is committed to continuing former President Lee C. Bollinger's pledge to make Columbia a net zero institution by 2050 or sooner.

"At Columbia University we must practice what we teach and preach – by harnessing innovative technologies, accelerating discovery, and operating a sustainable campus."

President Shafik

Integrating sustainable practices across all schools and departments will empower students, faculty, and staff to actively contribute to reducing emissions. Columbia University Facilities and Operations is leading initiatives to electrify Columbia's campuses, employ energy conservation measures, and establish sustainable construction standards that will help lower Scope 1 and 2 emissions.

Addressing Scope 3 emissions that are associated with business travel, purchased goods and services, food, and more, will require every Columbian to consider what we can do – individually and collectively within our schools and departments – to reduce our impact.

From left: Teachers College President Thomas Bailey, Columbia President Minouche Shafik, and Barnard President Laura Rosenbury hold up "Sustainable Columbia" T-shirts.

History of the Net Zero Pledge at Columbia

On January 30, 2020, former Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger released a statement addressing the University's commitments on climate. One of these commitments is that Columbia will achieve net zero emissions (including all Kyoto gases) by 2050, "with the hope, and expectation, of arriving at that point even earlier." 

With its first campus-wide sustainability plan released in 2017, Columbia committed to reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30 percent before 2020, a goal the University has since surpassed. Its next sustainability plan, Plan 2030 – a larger, more ambitious 10-year plan encompassing all four of Columbia’s campuses – provided a roadmap for the University to take even more progressive, urgent action around climate change, ultimately leading to net zero emissions.