A message from Dean Douglas Elmendorf

To the Harvard Kennedy School Community,

In a letter to the Harvard University community in September, President Larry Bacow wrote, “Climate change is the most consequential threat facing humanity.”

The Kennedy School will have its biggest impact on this threat through our research, teaching, and outreach. To bolster our significant existing activities—which are featured on the Climate@HKS website—we are currently conducting a search to recruit multiple additional faculty members focused on climate, the environment, and natural resources, and we are planning to expand our activities in other ways as well.

But we must also walk the talk of the analysis we are giving to others. Since 2016, the Kennedy School’s Sustainability Leadership Council—a group of faculty, students, and staff—has provided guidance about how to undertake our activities in more sustainable ways, and we have made changes in response. These changes are part of the University’s commitment to become fossil-fuel neutral by 2026 and fossil-fuel free by 2050, reducing adverse impacts on the climate and on other aspects of health and equity that are affected by fossil fuel use.

I encourage you to read highlights of our Sustainability Leadership Council’s 2021 report. These highlights include conducting a thorough survey of staff and faculty air travel to understand our emissions from this source; planning to increase our solar energy producing capacity; reducing plastic waste through a soft plastics recycling pilot and other measures; and convening a working group to make recommendations for a post-COVID sustainable campus.

I am grateful to the Sustainability Leadership Council and to all the members of our community who are making a difference in countering climate change and advancing sustainability—on our campus, across this country, and around the world.