Using the Distinctives of Higher Education to Accelerate Climate Action

The higher education sector has played an important role in society for hundreds of years. Today, the sector is well-positioned to leverage its experience in its “missions” (to offer education and vocational training, advance research, and meet society’s needs through applied research) to create solutions to the complex and urgent global problems caused by climate change. This paper describes seven key distinctives of the higher education sector that have emerged from these missions, and how they are
being applied directly to address climate challenges. These distinctives are not entirely unique to the sector, but are areas of sector-specific strength. Articulating these distinctives clearly can help other sectors working on climate issues better understand how cross-sector climate action could be effectively and efficiently accomplished. We provide background on these distinctives, examples of these distinctives at a variety of institutions, and conclude with future opportunities