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

Sustainability in the Core Curriculum

| Guest Posts, SDG13, SDG4, Updates | No Comments
by Becki Retzlaff Photo credit: Becki Retzlaff An important part of getting an undergraduate education is the core curriculum. The core curriculum helps Auburn maintain its accreditation, makes sure that students have basic knowledge of a variety of subjects, draws different parts of their education together, and provides a well-rounded…

Academics Assessment: Auburn University’s Stars Report

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by Randy Martin, Office of Sustainability Thousands of students attend universities and colleges for primarily one purpose, academics. Academics serve as the backbone of an institution. There are many things that people do and participate in tangentially to classes, but at the root, the university experience is in the classroom.…

Campus Changemaker: Chris Wyckoff

| SDG11, SDG12, SDG13, SDG4, SDG6, Sustainability in Action, Updates | No Comments
by Camille Colter, Office of Sustainability Photo credit: AU Photographic Services As most of us know, the first year of college can be scary. The First Year Experience (FYE) Office helps students in this transition. FYE houses the orientation programs Camp War Eagle and Successfully Orienting Students, as well as…


| SDG12, SDG13, SDG4, STARS, Updates | No Comments
by Randy Martin, Office of Sustainability Auburn’s vision and mission statement declares, “Auburn University is dedicated to improving the lives of the people of Alabama, the nation, and the world through forward-thinking education...”. We can’t have a forward-thinking education without teaching sustainability. Sustainability is already permeating every facet of our lives.…

Transportation Assessment: Auburn University’s STARS Report

| SDG11, SDG12, SDG13, SDG3, SDG9, STARS, Updates | No Comments
by Randy Martin, Office of Sustainability If you have seen the dark smoke billow out of the exhaust of a tractor-trailer or have had your windows down behind an older vehicle that coughs its way forward, you’ve seen firsthand the pollution that a single vehicle can produce. Now imagine all of…

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