The MIT Climate Nucleus, which is responsible for the implementation of Fast Forward: MIT’s Climate Action Plan for the Decade, is in the process of standing up three working groups called for in the plan. MIT students, staff, faculty, and postdocs who would like to be considered for one of the working groups should submit brief expressions of interest to the Nucleus.
There are three working groups: education, policy, and campus carbon footprint. If you would like to be considered for a working group, please send a note to email@example.com by Wednesday, December 8, 2021, and include:
- Which working group(s) you’d like to be considered for
- A very brief (no more than one paragraph) statement about your interest in the working group
- Your department, lab, or center (as applicable)
- For undergraduates, your major and year of graduation
Working group members are expected to serve for at least one year, with renewal for second year possible. The working group meetings schedules and activities will be set by the working groups after they are established.
Overall Charge for the Three Working Groups
Working groups are essential to the success of the Fast Forward Plan.
The vision for the working groups is to accelerate and democratize the actions in the Fast Forward plan. The working groups will be vehicles to promote and harness interest and engagement from the community toward a unified set of actions as quickly as possible.
The mission of the working groups is therefore two-fold: to lead new actions and also to help coordinate and amplify existing actions at MIT led by other groups. The working groups will not take over existing projects led by DLCIs, and will not preclude the formation of other groups or the launch of new activities or initiatives by other groups. However, the working groups and the Nucleus will provide guidance and assistance to DLCIs in order to coordinate a unified MIT climate vision. The working groups can also play a role in idea generation, bringing recommendations to the Nucleus for new ways to build on the strategy outlined in Fast Forward.
Working groups will collect data, conduct analyses, provide forums for community input, and make recommendations to the Nucleus for consideration and possible presentation to the Steering Committee for approval and adoption. They will review the action items in Fast Forward that are within their scope and offer recommendations for prioritization. They will also be alert to “cross-cutting” action items where closer collaboration with another working group would prove beneficial. Finally, working groups will, wherever possible, identify specific programs or offices at MIT that are well-positioned to take ownership of an action item and execute it.
Working groups will be established as needed to focus on particular areas of opportunity or challenge. The first working groups will focus on climate policy, climate education, and carbon footprint, as called out explicitly in the new plan. The Nucleus will recommend formation of other working groups as needed.
Education Working Group Charge
The goal of the Education Working Group is to strengthen climate-related and sustainability-related education at the Institute.
- New actions the Education Working Group shall lead are as follows:
- Assess current curricular and co-curricular offerings and develop recommendations for increasing participation in and strengthening climate-related education at MIT. This may include recommendations for how to coordinate relevant subject offerings in the five schools and the college.
- Help MIT build on the highly popular Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) to make a climate or clean-energy research opportunity (CROP) or experiential learning opportunity available to every undergraduate who wants one.
- Help all schools with design-related programs to incorporate sustainability as a fundamental principle.
- Existing Actions at MIT led by other groups, to be leveraged by the Education Working Group:
- Launch of the Sustainability Policy Hub (coordinated by the Technology and Policy Program).
- Expansion of Council on the Uncertain Human Future.
- Development of a science-based climate curriculum for students in grades 9 through 12 (led by the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research).
- Help MIT continue ESI’s work to introduce climate and sustainability topics and examples in courses and problem sets, particularly in the General Institute Requirements.
- The Education Working Group may wish to consider these topics:
- Exploring opportunities to work with first year undergraduate courses, the GIRs and majors’ core subjects for maximum educational impact.
- Recommending learning outcomes relevant to the Fast-Forward plan’s scope for courses taught across MIT.
- Considering online and hands-on (e.g. internships, MISTI) educational opportunities.
Policy Working Group Charge
The goal of the policy working group is to strengthen the impact of MIT climate-related research and education on policy-making at all levels: local, state, federal, and international.
- New actions the Policy Working Group shall lead are as follows:
- Work closely with the MIT Washington Office and other relevant Institute programs and offices, and assist them in reaching out to officials who make and implement policy at the federal, state, and local levels.
- Explore interest in a climate policy center that would allow for sustained and coordinated climate policy engagement at the Institute.
- Explore ways to make greater use of MIT’s existing tools that provide modeling and analysis for policy-makers (Energy–Rapid Overview and Decision Support (En-ROADS), the Economic Projection and Policy Analysis Model (EPPA), and the Sustainable Energy System Analysis Modelling Environment (SESAME)) and to develop new ones.
- Existing Actions at MIT led by other groups, to be leveraged by the Policy Working Group:
- A new cycle of research and convening around strengthening corporations’ climate-related financial disclosures (MIT Sloan).
- Science-based seminars for congressional staff on climate change, renewable energy, and climate policy topics (MITEI and Washington Office).
- Development of a series of case studies of companies that have transitioned to decarbonized and more-sustainable modes of operation. (MIT Climate and Sustainability Consortium).
- Address socioeconomic challenges associated with the clean energy transition (CEEPR’s Roosevelt Project; ESI’s Here and Real Project)
- Advance climate and energy solutions for the developing world (the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab’s King Climate Action Initiative; the Global Commission to End Energy Poverty; ESI’s Natural Climate Solutions Program; and the Climate Resilience Early Warning System Network (CREWSNET)).
- Annual delegations of faculty, researchers, students, staff, and postdocs from MIT to the UN’s climate change conference (Vice President for Research).
- Climate communications and outreach activities, including MIT’s Climate Primer and TILclimate podcast, its revamped Climate Portal, and its extensive online course offerings.
- The Policy Working Group may wish to consider these topics:
- How equity and justice considerations are incorporated in policy-related research and associated outreach.
- How to develop increased mutual understanding and communication between the MIT Washington office and MIT faculty and research staff.
- How to expand the scope of MIT policy research, education and outreach to include issues of the developing world and mitigation and adaptation equity.
- How best to coordinate MIT representation at global climate summits.
- How MIT can maintain and enhance its reputation for providing information that is credible and relevant to a broad range of stakeholders with different policy perspectives.
Carbon Footprint Working Group Charge
The goal of the Carbon Footprint Working Group is to push forward ambitious campus decarbonization to meet community expectations and aspirations and establish MIT as a model and leader of progress.
1. New actions the Carbon Footprint Working Group shall lead are as follows:
- While its agenda will change over time, the working group will initially be tasked to begin developing a roadmap to decarbonization by 2050.
- It will also provide oversight and ideas regarding the following initial priority commitments:
- MIT will establish and publish in 2022 a quantitative set of food, water, and waste systems impact goals that inform and advance MIT’s commitment to climate
- MIT will encourage all DLCIs to participate in preparing and implementing their own carbon footprint reduction and sustainability plans, building on the pilot program outlined in the School of Architecture and Planning’s 2020 climate action plan.
- Our campus will continue to be a “test bed for change” as we navigate a path towards net-zero.
- Existing Actions at MIT led by other groups, including the Vice President of Campus Services and Stewardship and the Office of Sustainability, and to be leveraged by the Carbon Footprint Working Group:
- Development and publication in 2022 of a carbon offset strategy for MIT-sponsored travel.
- Evaluation and expansion of MIT’s greenhouse gas portfolio accounting to include priority Scope 3 emissions (e.g., sponsored MIT travel, commuting) by 2023.
- Expansion of MIT’s greenhouse gas portfolio accounting to include off-campus locations, such as Bates Research and Engineering Center, Haystack Observatory, and Endicott House, by 2026.
- Purchase of zero-emissions light-duty vehicles for MIT’s fleet; the conversion of campus shuttle bus vehicles to zero-emission buses by 2026; and an increase in campus car-charging stations by a minimum of 200% (from 120 to 360) by 2026.
- An increase in the capacity of renewable (primarily solar) energy installations on campus by a minimum of 400% (from 100kw to 500kw) by 2026.
- The further development of climate resiliency plans and mitigation strategies for the campus and publication of an adaptation roadmap for the campus by 2025.
- Exploration of possibilities to employ artificial intelligence to reduce on-campus energy consumption.
- Analysis of how to achieve net-zero carbon by 2050 in a broad and diversified investment portfolio. Posting of environmental, social, and governance investment framework on the MITIMCo website.
- Offsetting the carbon footprint of the new Volpe development in Kendall Square as a step toward a carbon-neutral investment portfolio. Development at Volpe of all-electric residential buildings.
- Participation in Climate Action 100+ and its program of engagement with major companies.
- The Carbon Footprint Working Group may wish to consider:
- Exploring ways to link with government, private sector, and community stakeholders.
- Linking with other academic institutions and possibilities for partnerships.
- Exploring ways to increase the ambition of the new climate action plan even further.
- Integrating and engaging in an effort to bring the knowledge learned via the research and projects outlined in the other Fast Forward work streams to inform the acceleration of MIT’s net zero by 2050 plans.
- Advocating for funding to incentivize faculty and student research to leverage the campus as a test bed toward accelerated climate mitigation and adaptation interventions.