Policy and Community Engagement

Climate@Emory fosters collaborations and actively develops partnerships and policies that guide and strengthen the response to climate change at Emory, in Georgia, and beyond.


  • Emory's Climate Action Plan: In 2011, as part of Emory’s 175th anniversary celebration, the University adopted a Climate Action Plan that sets forth a series of goals and recommendations for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the future, including a 20% reduction by 2020 relative to 2005 levels (35% reduction per square foot); a 36% reduction by 2036 relative to 2005 levels (50% reduction per square foot); and a 50% reduction by 2050 relative to 2005 levels (85% reduction per square foot).  To accomplish the goals established in the Climate Action Plan, Emory University academic departments and operations are developing individual emission reduction plans.
  • Office of Sustainability Initiatives: As part of its commitment to positive transformation in the world, Emory has identified sustainability as a top priority of the University and is included in Emory's Strategic Plan. Emory's vision calls on the Office of Sustainability Initiatives to help restore our global ecosystem, foster healthy living, and reduce the University's impact on the local environment.  Sustainability Initiatives at Emory include: building green, integrating sustainability into the curriculum, promoting commute options, protecting green space, conserving water, recycling waste, and providing local and sustainably grown food.  The Office of Sustainability Initiatives evaluates Emory’s performance on the various sustainability programs that have been implemented through its Sustainability Dashboards.  Learn about how well we are performing so far in each area, including specifically climate-related dashboards of:Energy AwarenessCommute Alternatives, and Climate Action.

Atlanta and Georgia

  • July 2018 - Georgia Model Zoning Solar Ordinance Published: To help accelerate the smart growth of solar in Georgia, representatives from Emory University School of Law's Turner Environmental Law Clinic, Georgia Institute of Technology’s Strategic Energy Institute, and the University of Georgia have published the Georgia Model Solar Zoning Ordinance and accompanying explanatory guide. The ordinance strikes an important balance – protecting communities and the environment, while encouraging solar development and banking the benefits of cleaner electricity across the state.

    Emory, Georgia Tech, and the University of Georgia saw and responded to the availability gap for Georgia-specific information and developed the ordinance. “Counties and cities were looking for help crafting land use standards, as well as access to current, unbiased, and rigorous data, said Mindy Goldstein, co-author of the ordinance and director of the Turner Environmental Law Clinic. "Community members were looking for assurances that sensitive environments would be protected and their neighborhoods would still feel like home. Solar developers were looking for standardized siting requirements. We believe the ordinance meets all of these needs.”

    The authors crafted the ordinance using information gathered through more than sixty-five stakeholder meetings and thousands of hours of research, drawing on each university’s unique set of skills and expertise. The ordinance takes a comprehensive approach and everything from rooftop to utility-scale solar is covered. But its flexibility may be the ordinance’s greatest asset. “It is built to last. The provisions can bend as a community’s needs change and technology improves,” said Goldstein.

    Read more here

    solar ordinance

  • May 2018 - Georgia Climate Project Releases "Georgia Climate Research Roadmap": On May 23, the Georgia Climate Project—a state-wide consortium founded by Emory, Georgia Tech, and the University of Georgia—released a new paper in the journal Environmental Management with 40 key research questions that can help policymakers and practitioners better understand and address climate change in Georgia. The "Georgia Climate Research Roadmap," is an interactive Roadmap which asks questions of climate change impacts and solutions in Georgia. The 40 questions presented focus on topics ranging from Georgia’s agriculture and coasts to human health and social equity. More information:Emory News Release, AJC, WABE, Savannah Morning NewsClimate Roadmap Main Page
  • October 2016 - Emory/Ga. Tech Town Hall Considers No-Regrets Options for Georgia's Energy Future: Emory and Georgia Tech convened the second annual Choosing Our Energy Future Town Hall on Georgia’s clean energy future. Organized by Climate@Emory and Georgia Tech’s Climate and Energy Policy Lab, the town hall was comprised of 82 participants from academia (nine from Emory), government, NGOs, utilities, and the private sector. During the town hall they discussed two things: (1) the future of the Clean Power Plan and other regulations and (2) what the state can do to move forward on clean energy irrespective of the fate of those regulations. Below are the 16 “no-regrets” options that came out of the discussion. For more information see the event website here, video here and here, and twitter feed at #GAenergyGa Tech EmoryTown hall

  • June 2016 - Report on Clean Power Plan Compliance in the Southeast: The Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory Law School has released a first-of-its-kind report analyzing how various state laws could affect Clean Power Plan compliance in eight Southeastern states—Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Under the Clean Power Plan, issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in August 2015, each state is required to submit a state plan that details how it will achieve carbon emission reductions set by EPA. States may reduce emissions in a variety of ways, but one option is through mass-based trading. This report comes on the heels of a 438-page report released by the National Association of Clean Air Agencies which provides model state plans and legislation for states that choose mass-based trading. Press Release | Report

  • April 2016 - Power Dialog: On April 6, 2016, Emory University and Agnes Scott College co-hosted the "Power Dialog," part of a nationwide effort coordinated by the Bard Center for Environmental Policy to give students the chance to learn first hand about clean power issues in their state by interacting directly with leaders in the field.  po



Emory Delegations to UN Climate Conferences

In December 2014, the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change approved Emory University as an accredited, official observer to the UN climate talks. The accreditation allows Emory faculty, staff and students to participate in annual negotiating sessions such as those that produced the international agreements in Kyoto in 1997, Copenhagen in 2009, and Paris in 2015.


Starting with the Paris climate talks in 2015, Emory has sent a delegation to each of the annual UN climate conferences.


More information: