SDG Observatory

Goal 13: Climate Action

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.


Climate Action Globally

Climate change is a reality. 2019 was a record year for warm temperatures, carbon dioxide emissions, and the level of other greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. As a result of human activity, the world is already seeing changing weather patterns, rising sea levels, and an increase in extreme weather events.

Urgent action is needed. Adopted in 2015, the Paris Agreement is one example of an international agreement to implement new technologies and keep global temperature changes to a low. Much of the solution can be found in working towards achieving all of the Sustainable Development Goals. Investing in clean and affordable energy, protecting life below water and life on land, and increasing education around the climate crisis will all contribute to the solution.


Climate Action Locally

Approved in May of 2020, the Dallas Comprehensive Environmental and Climate Action Plan provides actionable steps to reduce Dallas emissions and work towards environmental protection. The plan recognizes the unique threats the Dallas area will face as a result of climate change, including extreme heat, drought, flooding, and public health concerns.

At UT Dallas, we believe all students can contribute to climate solutions. In providing an education that includes sustainability, we equip students with the tools to become future leaders in their field. Whether it be business, biology, policy, or psychology, everyone has a role to play in the climate solution.



Learning Outcomes

SDG 1: No Poverty
SDG 4: Quality Education

Sustainability is the lens through which student learning is assessed at the institutional level with the Comets to the Core program. In the 2018-2019 academic year student learning was assessed based on their collaborative, interdisciplinary projects that address SDG 1 [Sustainable Development Goal 1] : No Poverty and in 2018 students worked on projects related to the water crisis. Comets has adopted the learning outcome that students should be able to identify the social, political, environmental, and economic components of a complex world problem, and will provide a solution that address sustainability in each of these areas. Upon graduation, 49.71% of UTD students have experienced a program that adopts at least one sustainability learning outcome.


Environmental Studies Minor

SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
SDG 14: Life Below Water
A student holding her certificate and shaking hands with the Director of Sustainability and Energy Conservation, Gary Cocke.

Photo Source: UTD Sustainability 101

This minor will provide students from all majors with a better understanding of environmental issues and the skills to analyze future environmental problems. The name “Environmental Studies” reflects the goal of this interdisciplinary minor to encourage students to learn to view environmental issues from scientific, economic, political, and social standpoints. The 18 semester credit hours of the Environmental Sciences minor enable UT Dallas students to develop expertise in this important area. The framework provides all students with a policy and science perspective and allows students to tailor the minor, through choice of electives, to their individual goals. Students will be strongly encouraged to include an Environmental Studies Internship/Project (BIS 3310) in their minor though it may not be possible for all students.


Green Libraries

SDG 4: Quality Education
SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

The McDermott Library provides exceptional resources in sustainability research and learning collectively called “green” libraries. Green libraries emphasize stewardship of resources, impact on the natural environment, economy, ecology, and equity. Economy is the management, or stewardship, of the resources; Ecology is the relationship of the community with its environment, particularly the natural environment; and Equity is fairness to all. These Green Libraries encourage climate action through research, education, and engagement.


Eco Reps

SDG 4: Quality Education
SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

The Office of Sustainability hires student educators, known as Eco Representatives, and decides on goals and projects for events, communication, and initiatives that align with the short- and long-term sustainability goals of the University. Examples include educating students on how to reduce water and energy consumption with behavior change education and competitions, promoting recycling and composting through demonstration, contributing to social media, and coordinating events such as Earth Week, Sustainable Labs, Tree Campus USA, Bee Campus USA, Monarch Butterfly Way Stations, sustainability service honors, film screenings, and more. Students are also available to partner with any interested student organizations or campus offices on additional programming. For example, the Office of Sustainability can offer mock climate negotiations for classes or organizations upon request. The entirety of the campus community is invited to attend events and participate in programming hosted by The Eco Representatives through the Office of Sustainability.


Student Organizations

SDG 14: Life Below Water
SDG 15: Life on Land
Students standing inf front of piles of recyclables holding an ECO UTD poster.

Photo Source: UTD Sustainability 101

Among the hundreds of student organizations at UT Dallas, several focus on environmental stewardship and climate action specifically. ECO UTD is an organization for sustainability-minded students focused on environmental education, campus clean-ups, and protecting the natural environment. The UT Dallas chapter of Citizen’s Climate Lobby lobbies for bipartisan climate legislation, such as carbon pricing bills. The Sunrise Movement also has a newly founded chapter at UTD; this organization focuses on direct action for progressive climate policies. Additionally, the Office of Sustainability Eco Reps host the Green Convene, a semesterly event focused on bringing together sustainability-focused student organizations. The first Green Convene was held in Fall of 2020, with over 16 student organizations in attendance. Students who are interested in getting involved with climate action can find a home with other like-minded students.


Earth Week

Each year, the Office of Sustainability (OoS [Office of Sustainability] ) hosts programming, and events to celebrate Earth Week at UT Dallas. Most recently, in 2021, the OoS [Office of Sustainability] held several virtual events throughout the week with sustainability partners. These included an Office of Sustainability Townhall, Sustainable Menstruation Event, and the semesterly Green Convene hosted by Eco Reps. In 2020, the Office of Sustainability quickly executed Digital Earth Week, comprised of an informational video resource library based around the Sustainable Development Goals. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Sustainability held these Earth Week events in person. Students could set a sustainability goal for themselves, volunteer with on-campus sustainability projects, and learn more about climate action. In 2018, UTD hosted a Climate Reality Project Speaker to engage with students about the climate crisis specifically. The Office of Sustainability looks forward to returning to in-person Earth Week programming in the future to continue climate education for the campus community.


Goals / Future Work

  • Incorporate climate action into Office of Sustainability events
  • Continue improving Comets to the Core program
  • Engage students through in-person Campus Sustainability Month (October) and Earth Week (April) programming


Other Work We Do

The programs highlighted here are just one piece of the work we do on campus to achieve SDG 13 [Sustainable Development Goal 13] . View the full dataset (PDF [Portable Document Format File] ), guided by the Association of Advancement in Higher Education (AASHEAssociation of Advancement in Higher Education)’s Sustainable Development Goal translation guide.


Learn More

  • Take the online courses regarding Climate Action from SDG Academy
  • Learn more about the targets and indicators at the UN Global Goals website