Climate Action

Climate Action Graphic by Vitoria Cassol

On this page, you will find:

A Brief Sustainability Timeline at SU
Timeline of major sustainability initiatives by SU since 1986

SU's Climate Commitment

In 2007, Seattle University became a charter signatory of the American College & University President's Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). We believe that higher education must educate students and conduct research to develop the social, environmental, economic and technological solutions to reverse global climate change and lead by example to reduce our campus’ emissions.  

The ACUPCC Commitment required signatories to: 

  • Establish an institutional structure 
  • Complete an Emissions inventory within a year and annually thereafter 
  • Establishing a climate neutrality action plan setting a target date and interim milestones for achieving climate neutrality 
  • Take immediate steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 
  • Integrate sustainability into the curriculum
  • Make the climate action plan, inventory and progress reports publicly available

See the ACUPCC Implementation Guide here. 


Climate Action Plan (2010) and Laudato Si Action Plan (2023)

Updated CAP Infographic 2022

In 2010, Seattle University created a Climate Action Plan (CAP) to further deepen and strengthen its commitment to sustainability. The CAP describes the university’s intentions to more comprehensively address climate change and advance sustainability in the Academics, Coc-curricular programs, Marketing and Communications, and Operations.

In 2011,The President’s Committee for Sustainability (PCS) was convened to oversee: 

  • The implementation of Seattle University's Climate Action Plan 
  • The integration of sustainability initiatives across the Seattle University community 


7 Goals of the Laudato Si Action Platform



In response to Pope Francis’s invitation to higher education institutions, Seattle University's (SU) President Peñalver signed a letter of commitment in September 2021 to participate in the “Seven-Year Journey Towards Integral Ecology”and the Laudato Si’ Action Platform (LSAP).

The LSAP Leadership team was created in Fall 2022 to follow in the footsteps of the President's Committee for Sustainability (PCS, 2011-2022). with the goal to oversee, facilitate, and adequately coordinate the implementation of the LSAP priorities and goals.  The LSAP team adopted, in February 2023, SU's Laudato Si’ Action Plan, which includes four main priorities and 27 goals.

Reducing SU’s Carbon Footprint 

Seattle University has committed to work towards carbon neutrality or zero Greenhouse Gas emissions. SU’s initial Climate Action Plan was to reduce emissions by at least 12% by 2020 and by at least 51% by 2035 from the baseline year 2009.

In FY 2021 and FY2022, SU reached carbon neutrality for scopes 1 and 2 through investments in new campus infrastructure and the purchase of offsets.

The landscape version of the Carbon Reduction Infographic 2022 Download the Carbon Footprint Reduction Infographic (2022) here.

Carbon Offsets Purchasing

While Seattle University is committed to reducing emissions through on-campus projects and programs, it recognizes that the need for climate action is urgent and SU will be unable to reduce 100% of its emissions through its own actions. As President Eduardo Peñalver shared during Earth Month 2022, “We're currently developing a plan that will completely eliminate our (university’s) use of natural gas. Until that plan can be fully implemented, we will continue to take responsibility for our direct greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing high-quality carbon offsets that have multiple environmental and social benefits.”

In 2022, a carbon offset committee evaluated the use of high-quality offsets as a supplemental strategy for achieving climate neutrality. The committee recommended that the University purchase third-party-verified offset projects that provide significant social, environmental, and economic benefits to communities that go beyond the benefits of GHG reductions while offering significant academic benefits to the Seattle University community and are in accordance with Laudato Si’s call for Integral Ecology and protecting creation and SU's Jesuit mission of academic excellence, sustainability, and empowering leaders for a just and humane world.

Learn more about carbon offsets here.

For a brief overview of SU's carbon offsets purchasing, see this SU today article.

June 2023: Full Divestment at SU

SeattleU was the first Jesuit university in the world to commit to full fossil fuel divestment. In 2018, Seattle University's (SU) Board of trustees voted to divest from fossil fuels with goals to, "by June 30, 2023, fully divest the marketable portion of the endowment from any investments in companies owning fossil fuel reserves,” and “to achieve a 50 percent reduction by December 31, 2020.” In March 2020, the 50% reduction was reached, nine months ahead of schedule. In June 30, 2023, SU fully divested from fossil fuels. To learn more about divestment, SU's process and divestment timeline, see the Divestment Case Study Webpage here.


How You Can Reduce Your Footprint

Want to reduce your own carbon footprint? Learn more at our Sustainable Living and Sustainable Living on Campus pages! Also check out the “Small Business Climate Impact Guide,” created by SU graduate students from the Albers School of Business and Economics to support businesses with the implementation of step-by-step strategies to lower their greenhouse gas emissions.