Taking urgent action to combat climate change & its impacts is the purpose of Sustainable Development Goal 13 (SDG 13). This goal strives to strenghten resilience & adaptability, implement policies & plans, & increase capacity for change.

Actions, stories, & resources related to SDG 13: Climate Action as told in the 2021 Auburn University and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals report, & then expanded on below, illustrate Auburn’s impact. For an overview highlighting our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), please visit


Taking urgent action against climate change and its impacts is essential to building a sustainable world for everyone. Severe weather and rising sea levels affect everyone, but marginalized people groups and the poor are disproportionately affected. If climate change is left unchecked, the consequences will be ecosystem destruction, food and water scarcity, and conflict.

Most of Auburn University’s engagement with Goal 13 is through its research, with no less than 13 faculty conducting research from 2016-2018. Auburn University’s mission is to improve the lives of people in its community, state, nation, and world through education, research, and service. Because the climate crisis is a global issue, any action to remedy the effects of climate change has a global impact, which suits Auburn University’s mission on a local and global scale. Climate action is an effective and lasting way to have the positive impact Auburn University desires on every scale.

View the 2021 report titled Auburn University and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for an overview of Auburn’s contributions to all the SDGs.

Actions at Auburn

While many climate-related courses focus solely on the forces that drive climate change, ENVI 6100 students learn about these driving forces for the purpose of understanding the ultimate consequences of climate change. The class addresses the changing climate and applies these changes to different ecosystems, inquiring about how climate change impacts flora, fauna, and diverse biospheres. ENVI 6100 assesses the potential future impacts of climate change by looking at past and present climate crisis consequences. The focuses of ENVI 6100 are the consequences of climate change rather than climate change itself, giving students perspective on why climate action is an urgent matter. ENVI 6100 is offered through the College of Agriculture.

Hurricaine image from space sdg Photo courtesy of National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Climate Awareness for Young People class sdg Photo courtesy of Dr. Chandana Mitra

Dr. Chandana Mitra of the College of Sciences and Mathematics visited Auburn High School to educate and create awareness among high school students about climate crises and their impacts. Dr. Mitra and a graduate student in the Department of Geosciences presented on climate change and the impacts of urban growth on local climate, including the Urban Heat Island effect. The high school environmental science class engaged in hands-on experiences by taking measurements with infrared thermometers and hydrometers. Educating high school students about climate change is important for raising the next generation of climate actioners and increasing awareness among young people’s peers and families.

In his paper, “The terrestrial biosphere as a net source of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere,” College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment’s Dr. Hanqin Tian and his colleagues examined the balance of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide in the land biosphere and the human contribution of these gases to the biosphere. The terrestrial biosphere sequesters atmospheric carbon dioxide, thus mitigating climate change. But the human transformation of the land biosphere has caused a large amount of methane and nitrous oxide emissions. Dr. Tian’s research reveals for the first time that human activities have transformed the land biosphere to act as a contributor to climate change.

Scientists studying climate change sdg Photo courtesy of School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences

People & Stories

Regeneration: Reversing Global Degeneration

| Director's Corner, SDG11, SDG13, SDG7 | No Comments
“If putting the future of life at the heart of everything we do is not central to our purpose and destiny, why are we here?” Paul Hawken In a 1946 New York Times article, the eminently quotable Albert Einstein said, “a new type of thinking is essential if mankind is…

Alumni Feature: Travys Harper

| SDG11, SDG13, SDG15, Sustainability Auburn Alumni Affiliate | No Comments
By Travys Harper. I was first exposed to sustainability at Auburn through an Introduction to Sustainability course. At the time, I began to notice that I was already doing some of these things in my life naturally, for example using less water for dishes and brushing my teeth. I was…

Is the Response to Climate Change a War? Yes. And No.

| Director's Corner, SDG13, SDG16 | No Comments
As I write this, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties – COP 26 for short – is about to convene in Glasgow Scotland.  It opens on October 31 and ends on November 12.  Before 1995 when COP 1 was convened we already knew that planetary warming…

Climate Change 2021 & a “Quality Education”

| Director's Corner, SDG, SDG13, SDG4, SDG7 | No Comments
By Mike Kensler. For September, this column continues our tour of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), this month focusing on SDG 4: Quality Education. Sort of. As I write this in late August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just released its Sixth Assessment Report, also…

Population Connection: Why Family Planning Matters to Climate Change

| Events, SDG13, Videos | No Comments
We invite you to watch our webinar on the connections between climate change and population growth. Our guest Hannah Evans with Population Connection presents the ways in which population growth contributes to and is affected by climate change around the world. It includes several case studies which introduce the concepts…

Explore the SDGs & AU