Climate Action Plan

“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications…It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in coming decades. Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming.” – Pope Francis, Laudato Si


Pope Francis on his Encyclical on Care for Our Common Home firmly pronounced that climate change is one of the greatest threats of our time, and the impacts of climate change will disproportionately burden the world's poor. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world's leading panel of experts, scientists and government officials, has repeatedly highlighted the urgency of prioritizing timely, ambitious and coordinated action to address unprecedented and enduring changes. In September 2019, The United Nations held a Global Climate Action Summit to bring climate change to the top of the international agenda.  Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg has received global attention for rallying young people to speak out about the climate crisis. The world is starting to pay attention, and it's our turn to step up and act. (Please watch the video at the bottom of this page to hear our students explain the climate crisis and why it's time to act). 

The Saint Mary's Sustainability Committee is excited to begin the process of developing the College's inaugural Climate Action Plan (CAP). To ensure that this process is as inclusive and participatory as possible, we want to offer the entire campus community the opportunity to provide feedback throughout the planning process.  We will begin with two campus-wide town hall meetings at the following times and locations. Please mark your calendars. 

  • Tuesday, October 22 at 11am, Hagerty Lounge
  • Wednesday, November 20 at 1pm, Delphine Lounge

If you cannot attend one of our town hall meetings or had ideas arise after one of these meetings, please feel free to share them here

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a Climate Action Plan?

A Climate Action Plan (CAP) begins with an inventory of the College's past greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (see attachment below) and follows with a plan for reducing those emissions by a given time frame. Over 400 Colleges and Universities throughout the country have implemented Climate Action Plans at their institutions, and many are on their second or third iteration.  The goal of a Climate Action Plan at Saint Mary's is to achieve the largest and most cost-effective GHG emissions reduction. Tackling climate change is not just a technological challenge, it is a moral, ethical and social justice issue. 

What is our timeline and process for implementation?

We envision the Climate Action Plan as a multi-stage process. The first stage, which is already complete, is an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions related to campus operations.  The second stage, the "listening" stage, will occur this fall and will involve a series of town hall meetings and focus groups. The listening sessions will start with a presentation of GHG emissions data and then allow the space and time for students, staff and faculty to offer their ideas for reducing our carbon footprint.  The final phase will incorporate the feedback we received during the listening sessions, as well as advice from Sightlines, to formulate a strategic and customized carbon emissions reduction plan for Saint Mary's.  We hope to have the CAP completed by the end of the Academic Year.

Who will develop & implement the Climate Action Plan?

The Sustainability Committee has been charged with the task of developing and implementing the CAP.  The Policy Subcommittee is the natural "working group" for seeing the CAP through. Because the Sustainability Committee is a President's Committee the recommended Plan, once passed by a majority vote in the Committee, will go directly to the President for his approval.  To avoid the risk of this merely being a symbolic or administrative exercise, we know that the success of this Plan hinges on communication with and involvement of stakeholders and the broader campus community throughout the development process. So while the CAP is being driven by the Sustainability Community, our aim is to promote a public dialogue outside the confines of the Committee to raise awareness about these important issues and take action at a community level.

Members of the Sustainability Policy Subcommittee include:

  • Roy Wensley (Chair), Dean of School of Science
  • Michael Viola, AVP of Facilities Services
  • Frances Sweeney, Vice President of Mission
  • Joe Rosa, Accounts Payable & Purchasing Supervisor
  • Joel Burley, Professor, Chemistry
  • Ann Drevno, Sustainability Director

Please do not hesitate to contact us ( with any questions or concerns you might have throughout this process. 

PDF icon Sightlines Greenhouse Gas Data1.33 MB