Caltech has joined dozens of universities around the globe in launching the International Universities Climate Alliance (IUCA), which aims to provide a new voice for engaging in international and national policy discussions around climate change.
Fostered by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney in Australia, the alliance is a network of 40 universities in 18 countries, each with different strengths in analyzing and addressing climate change. The group plans to communicate research insights to policymakers and the public about how best to tackle this existential threat.
"Today, we are seeing the importance of having clear scientific input about issues and challenges facing society. The IUCA hopes to be a resource to governments and other stakeholders that provides an independent and respected international voice on matters related to climate science, impacts, mitigation, and adaptation," says Andrew Thompson, professor of environmental science and engineering, and Caltech's point of contact for the IUCA.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic's dominance in the public's mind right now, the member universities of the Alliance made the decision to push forward with the formation of the group due to the urgent need to address climate change.
"Of course, in the current situation turning our attention to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic must be a priority, which has already led to major shifts in research projects and resources. However, over the past month, we have been witnessing the same contentious discussions surrounding the importance of scientific input on policy making that have characterized the climate debate for decades," Thompson says.
"Eventually, addressing climate change may require fundamental changes in how society functions. It is more clear than ever that making these decisions from an informed position based on the collective understanding of the climate science community is essential for the stewardship of both national and international interests," he adds.
With the recent $750 million gift from Stewart and Lynda Resnick to support cutting-edge research into the most pressing challenges in environmental sustainability, Caltech is positioned to be a leading voice on climate change, he says—a voice that is urgently needed now.
More information about the alliance can be found on its website, https://www.universitiesforclimate.org.