UC Berkeley joins forces with other universities to battle climate change

Berkeleys Julie Hooper at the Global Alliance of Universities on Climate, Jan., 2019

UC Berkeley Julie Hooper (third from right) sits with ambassadors from other schools at the formation of the Global Alliance of Universities on Climate in January in Davos, Switzerland. (World Economic Forum photo)

A group of UC Berkeley faculty and administrators led by Chancellor Carol Christ took part in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, recently and came home as part of a new grouping of top world universities dedicated to combating climate change.

The Global Alliance of Universities on Climate (GAUC) came out of the weeklong meeting with a shared commitment to press for greater levels of collaboration on climate issues, greater engagement with climate stakeholders and the promotion of environmental practices by universities — all of which is in line with United Nations conventions on climate change and sustainable development goals.

Berkeley is one of two American universities to co-found GAUC, along with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Other members of the eight-school group, which hopes to expand in coming years, are the Australian National University; the University of Cambridge; the Imperial College London; the London School of Economics and Political Science; the University of Tokyo; and Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

In calling climate change one of the greatest challenges facing humankind, the group will advocate for:

Chancellor Christ

UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ (UC Berkeley photo by Keegan Houser)

1. Encouraging universities around the world to address climate change as a core part of their mission
2. Advancing global understanding and commitments on climate action through greater engagement with climate stakeholders
3. Strengthening cooperative links that promote research, policy development and implementation, technological innovation and public awareness on climate issues
4. Strengthening cooperation on climate change in the creation of relevant knowledge and skills, including the development of related training and education programs
5. Advocating and supporting low net-GHG emissions campus practices, and promoting the adoption of world-leading environment practices by universities around the world consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals

While at the Davos summit, Christ moderated a panel on fake news and how to combat it. Panelists included New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times CEO Mark Thompson and Christian Lanng, CEO and co-founder of Tradeshift. Watch the conversation here.

Christ also took part in the Global University Leadership Forum (GULF) with leaders of the other 27 schools worldwide that comprised the organization.

Berkeley was the first public school to join GULF, which has two primary roles: to act as a community to address educational, scientific and research agendas and to serve as an advisory body providing intellectual stewardship to the WEF.

This was the first trip to the WEF in Davos for Christ, who did not attend in 2018, but made the 2019 meeting at the urging of Klaus Schwab, the founder and CEO of the WEF. Nicholas Dirks, Berkeley’s previous chancellor, took part in the WEF each year from 2013-17.

Accompanying the chancellor to Davos were Julie Hooper, vice chancellor for University Development and Alumni Relations; Ronald Dahl, director of the Institute of Human Development; Eve Ekman, training director of the Greater Good Science Center; Jodi Halpern, professor of Bioethics and director of the Berkeley Group for Ethics and Regulation of Innovative Technologies; Alexa Koening, executive director of Berkeley Law’s Human Rights Center; Emiliana Simon-Thomas, science director for the Greater Good Science Center; and Laura D. Tyson, distinguished professor of the Graduate School, Berkeley Haas School of Business.

The group took part in a number of forums and held meetings with a number of companies, including Microsoft, Nielsen and Expedia, in addition to having an alumni and friends meeting. There were more than 50 Berkeley alumni who attended the WEF as part of their professional work on business, climate, vaccination and economic challenges.