The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has announced a five-year plan aimed at fighting climate change.
Citing "overwhelming" scientific evidence and the "risk of catastrophic outcomes," A Plan for Action on Climate Change commits the university to direct action in five areas: research aimed at further understanding climate change and advancing solutions to mitigate and adapt to it; the acceleration of low-carbon energy technology via eight new research centers; the development of enhanced educational programs; the development of new tools to share climate information globally; and measures to reduce carbon use on the MIT campus. As part of its Environmental Solutions Initiative, MIT will provide $5 million in support of cross-disciplinary research projects, while its Energy Initiative, in cooperation with corporate partners, will launch the low-carbon energy centers, each of which will seek $8 million a year in funding, for a total investment of more than $300 million over the five-year period.
The plan, which includes a competition to be hosted by the MIT Climate CoLab that will crowdsource priorities and solutions to climate change, also states that MIT will not divest its $13.5 billion endowment from the fossil fuel industry, as demanded by Fossil Free MIT, a student-led group that is protesting the plan. According to Fossil Free, MIT, which is in the midst of a $5.5 billion capital campaign, receives more funding from the fossil fuel industry than almost any university in the country.
"We believe that divestment — a dramatic public disengagement — is incompatible with the strategy of engagement with industry to solve problems that is at the heart of today’s plan," the plan declares. "Combating climate change will require intense collaboration across the research community, industry, and government."