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Wash U Becomes Hub Of Midwest Summit To Fight Climate Change

Washington University Chancellor Andrew Martin speaks at a press conference with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in May 2019 about climate change.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio
Washington University Chancellor Andrew Martin and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announce a summit for Midwestern universities, businesses and governments in 2020 to focus on addressing climate change.

Washington University in St. Louis will become the anchor of a regional effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stop climate change.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced on Thursday the creation of the Midwest Collegiate Climate Summit at a press conference in downtown St. Louis. The summit, which would take place at Wash U in 2020, would involve universities, local governments, nonprofits and businesses.

It’s important for public- and private-sector institutions in the Midwest to work together to address the consequences of climate change in the region, Bloomberg said.

“The terrible flooding across the region this year just shows how serious this is and how urgent this challenge is,” Bloomberg said. “If we don’t do something, it’s going to get worse every single year.”

Bloomberg is also the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action.

Participants of the summit would focus on several initiatives, including promoting solar energy, he added. The collaboration also seeks to help universities that are a part of it, such as Ohio State University, reduce harmful emissions.

“Without collaboration to address the threat of climate change, we would not be where we are today,” said Washington University Chancellor Andrew Martin. “Consequently we would fall short of the imperative set before us and the trajectory we must follow in order to sustain the world in which we live.”

Bloomberg Philanthropies, Bloomberg’s charity organization, had granted Mayor Lyda Krewson’s office $2.5 million in resources last October to help the city’s carbon pollution-tracking program. Under the effort, landlords of large buildings track carbon emissions. Buildings contribute nearly 80% of St. Louis’ carbon pollution.

“By reporting and disclosing this energy usage, we give tenants the opportunity to make the right choice on where to make their office, and they’ll choose to locate in a building that is more energy efficient than not,” Krewson said.

The summit could potentially help the city’s goal to generate a 100% of its electricity from wind, solar and other renewable energy sources by 2035. It’s not known how much money Bloomberg Philanthropies plans to spend on the summit.

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Eli is the science and environment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.