Sustainability & Climate Action

Environmental sustainability is a defining issue of the 21st century, and higher education can play a leadership role in addressing global climate change. Through the research, teaching, and operational practices articulated in its Climate and Sustainability Action Plan 3.0, Penn is dedicated to promoting a sustainable culture and implementing environmentally conscious policies.

Penn student conducting research on mussel health in the Schuylkill River

A message about Penn’s endowment and sustainability

President Liz Magill and Board of Trustees Chair Scott L. Bok
November 29, 2022

The world gathering in Egypt for COP27 reminds us of the urgency of our collective fight against climate change. Faculty, student, and staff attendees from Penn represent the energy and talent that so many Penn community members contribute to this crucial effort. This is an opportune moment to share our thoughts on the role of Penn’s endowment in combatting climate change. The complexity of the issue and the urgency of the climate challenge merit a thoughtful consideration and explanation of Penn’s policies.

Penn’s endowment exists to provide long-term support for Penn’s educational mission. This year, Penn will spend a record $960 million from its endowment to support student financial aid, faculty salaries, faculty teaching and research, Penn’s health system, and countless other programs that rely heavily on endowment spending. While the core purpose of Penn’s endowment is to provide this financial support, some have argued that large endowments should play a role in mitigating climate change and, in particular, that fossil fuels do not have a place in university endowments.

 Full Announcement
Via Penn Today

College Hall facade, showing collegiate gothic architecture, framed by mature trees

Penn’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions within the endowment

The Office of Investments has established the goal of reducing the net greenhouse gas emissions from Penn’s endowment investments to zero by 2050. Penn Today speaks with Chief Investment Officer Peter Ammon about Penn’s new climate goal and the challenges that will need to be overcome in order to achieve it.

Penn President Liz Magill photographed in her College Hall office

"Combating climate change is a top priority at Penn. Combining research, educational, operational, and investment initiatives, we are bringing every aspect of our enterprise together to help secure a more sustainable future for our community and the world."

Liz Magill, Penn President