President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. at the 2016 State of the University address. Stanley represented the SUNY school system at a conference dedicated to fight climate change. JERROD WHITE/STATESMAN FILE

Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. joined the launch of a multi-university coalition to fight climate change at the 2018 Higher Education Climate Change Leadership Summit on Tuesday, Feb. 6.

The University Climate Change Coalition, also known as UC3, is made up of 13 research universities from across North America, including the California Institute of Technology, the University of Toronto and UNAM in Mexico City. The coalition seeks to coordinate with policy makers to bring about environmentally-beneficial programs.

Stanley represented the entire SUNY school system at the conference, and served as a featured speaker during the Feb. 6 closing keynote panel. Stanley, a biomedical researcher and physician by background, said the collaborative effort between universities would bring a boost to the fight against climate change.

“It’s certainly an honor to be a part of this coalition, but more than that, this is an opportunity to pool our resources with other institutions and make a lasting impact on climate change,” Stanley said at the conference. “This is a critical time that calls for decisive action. Thanks to our long history of green initiatives, Stony Brook continues to be at the forefront of this effort to protect our world.”

Stony Brook’s location on Long Island puts the university and its investments at great risk should climate change continue unabated. Long Island and the Lower Hudson Valley can expect to see sea level rises of up to 55 inches by the 2080s should accelerated ice melting rates for Greenland and Antarctica hold up, according to a 2011 report from New York state’s Department of Environmental Conservation. Within 100 years, the DEC claims the floodplains around the Long Island Sound could encompass $125 billion worth of property.

The United States is expected to suffer $5 trillion in coastal property damages by 2100, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson expressed her gratitude for being able to join the coalition, and said the 64-institution system could lead the way in educating the next generation to combat climate change.

“Sustainability is a shared responsibility to preserve our civilization, and I am passionate about the leadership role SUNY can take in educating the next generation of sustainability leaders, researching climate change solutions, and creating energy-efficient environments across our 64 campuses,” Johnson said at the conference. “Today, by joining the coalition with other leaders in higher education we take that effort international. On behalf of SUNY, we are proud to join the University Climate Change Coalition and I am thankful to my fellow university leaders for their partnership in this effort.”

Stony Brook has taken steps to reduce its environmental impact for years. The university’s Office of Sustainability was founded in 2011, and signed on to Second Nature’s Carbon Commitment in 2007. Stony Brook pledged to reduce its carbon emissions 25 percent by 2020, but as of 2014, the last year emissions reports are available, the university has reduced its carbon output by just 13.49 percent.

Stanley credited his predecessors with paving the way for the university’s ability to make environmentally conscious decisions today.

“The determination and hard work put in by the previous generation has made it much simpler for us to create sustainable initiatives on campus today,” Stanley said. “We are able to build on that legacy, improving those areas that benefit from newer technology, while keeping an eye toward what future developments can offer us. We are continually working toward a healthier, more efficient and sustainable campus, and everyone in our community reaps the rewards.”