Climate change poses an existential threat to humans. Climate affects everything including weather, agriculture, health, economy, travel, supply chains and will have intergenerational impacts. Everyday we are experiencing the impacts of climate change in some part of the world.  Now is the time to act. Large institutions like Penn State University face choices about how we respond climate change: choices related to energy, preparedness, research, curriculum, co-curricular engagement, and community outreach across the Commonwealth. Various groups across the university are working to address climate issues, converging periodically to align their efforts, they are listed below.

If you are part of a Penn State group working on climate responses/action and your group is not listed, and would like to participate in this convergence, contact

Carbon Emissions Reduction Task Force

The Carbon Emissions Reduction Task Force was charged in the fall of 2021 by President Eric Barron to provide “specific, actionable, practical, and economically viable recommendations that when implemented will position Penn State as a leader in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction and a model for other institutions and organizations to follow.”

The Task Force was comprised of faculty, staff, and representative students from across the University who worked diligently to balance the challenge of the task with the urgency of the issue. Internal data was analyzed, benchmarked across peer institutions, alternate strategies were modeled, and they constructively discussed alternative pathways for institutional change.

The resulting report, released on Earth Day, April 22, 2022, sought to address two challenges: (1) the additional emissions reductions that are required are not “easy” and will require financial commitment, and (2) the urgency of the climate crisis requires that this investment be made soon.

Read or download the report HERE

Climate Crossover

Crossover’s aim is to incorporate climate into classrooms, and build an interdisciplinary community of instructors to raise awareness of the intersections between climate and their work.


Mark Sentesy

Penn State Climate Consortium

Building convergence in climate research, this consortium is housed in the Institute of Energy and Environment, Office of Senior Vice President of Research. This collective of internal and external partners is committed to identifying, creating, and implementing research-based solutions to climate change. 


Erica Smithwick

Council of Commonwealth Student Governments (CCSG)

On February 1, 2020 the CCSG created a Standing Sustainability Committee (CR 19-20.16) and in March 2020 hosted their first sustainability summit bringing together 120 student government representatives from 19 Commonwealth Campuses. On October 9 CCSG passed a Climate Resolution in support of the Penn State Climate Action petition. This resolution was co-sponsored by student representatives from Behrend, Brandywine, Greater Allegheny, Abington, Lehigh Valley and Harrisburg. Student Governments from Abington, Brandywine, Greater Allegheny and Scranton also put out statements demanding the administration take more aggressive action of Climate Change.


Andrew Zimmerman

Penn State Faculty Senate

Resolution Climate Action resolution April 2020, and follow up with five Senate Committees.


Michele Stine
Faculty Senate Chair

Brandi Robinson

PS CaN  (Penn State Carbon Negative)

Since fall 2019, a group of 20+ faculty and OPP staff working on initiatives to present to President Baron as options toward a Carbon Negative (CaN) goal.

Penn State Carbon Negative co-leads: Charlie Anderson, Margot Kaye, Tom Richard, and Tim White.


Charlie Anderson, Co-Chair

Margot Kaye

Tom Richard, Co-Chair

Tim White

The Penn State Student Sustainability Council (SSAC)

The SSAC is composed of students who are appointed by President Barron to serve as an advisory board to senior staff regarding sustainability. The group is comprised of three working groups focused on Carbon Neutrality, Zero-Waste and Sustainability Education.

University Athletics

Exploring the UN Sports and Climate Action Framework

Starting in late 2020, a group in Intercollegiate Athletics is working to build on their existing sustainability initiatives and further the University’s sustainability mission using the strength of the Athletics program.

The University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA)

The UPUA is Penn State University Park’s undergraduate student government. During the UPUA’s 14th Assembly in Spring 2020, UPUA Director of Sustainability Nora Van Horn created the Department of Sustainability within the executive branch of the UPUA. This department has taken a primary role in shaping the organization and its advocacy. The head of the Department, the Executive Director of Sustainability, serves as a member of the UPUA President’s Cabinet and advises the University Park Student Body President and Vice President on matters pertaining to sustainability.

In collaboration with the Department of Sustainability, the UPUA’s General Assembly has passed legislation in support of the Faculty Senate Climate Action resolution (Resolution #05-15), the Demands made by the PSU Climate Action Petition (Resolution #38-15), and The Energy Innovation Carbon Dividend Act (Resolution #43-15). The UPUA’s Assembly also purchased Penn State University Park’s PLAN (Post-Landfill Action Network) Membership (Bill #04-15). UPUA President Zachary McKay has also signed the Students for Carbon Dividends Statement and called for Climate Action and Justice at Penn State through a video address to the public on the International Day of Climate Action.


Caden Vitti
Executive Director of Environmental Sustainability

Nora O’Toole
UPUA President