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

Actions, stories, & resources related to SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals are shared in our latest Auburn University and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals report. They are shared below to illustrate Auburn’s impact. For an overview highlighting our commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), please visit

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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.

Auburn University engaged with Goal 13 to a moderate degree across teaching, outreach, and research activities from 2019- 2021. Most of Auburn University’s engagement with Goal 13 is through its teaching, with no less than 48 courses offered from 2019-2021. 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 aligns with Auburn University’s mission to have a positive impact 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 our most recent Auburn University and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals report  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
Facilities Energy Management winning a Spirit of Sustainability Award

Facilities Energy Management (FEM) monitors electricity, gas, and water usage of campus buildings to lower energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. FEM’s Energy Reduction Strategy, a key climate-related initiative underway at AU, is a collection of aggressive energy reduction goals. The strategy has resulted in the metering of nearly every building on Auburn’s campus, tracking data to identify leaks and other issues. FEM uses a building commissioning, recommissioning, and retro-commissioning program to improve and upgrade building mechanicals to ensure safe, efficient, and optimal operating conditions. FEM’s outreach includes relationships with community partners to support students through mentorship, guest lecturers, and tours of renewable energy plants and solar arrays.

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.

Climate Awareness for Young People class sdg Photo courtesy of Dr. Chandana Mitra

The International Center for Climate and Global Change Research (ICCGCR) features the collaborative efforts of the Colleges of Science and Mathematics, Agriculture, Engineering, Liberal Arts, and the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment. The ICCGCR fosters a space for interdisciplinary research as pertaining to climate change and includes publications from a wide range of colleges. The ICCGCR also develops various graduate courses related to climate change and its relationship with ecology. Director of the ICCGCR, Dr. Hanqin Tian, was nationally ranked in 2021 as among the world’s most influential climate scientists.

Individuals sitting next to a stream
Aerial photo of a community

Dr. Susan (Shufen) Pan is an Associate Professor and Director of the GIS and Remote Sensing Laboratory in the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment at Auburn University. She has more than 20 years of experience in geospatial analysis, ecosystem modeling and remote sensing applications. Dr. Pan’s research program aims to Monitor, Assess and Predict the impacts of climate change and other environmental stresses on ecosystems and people, and provide geospatial solutions for enhancing ecosystem resilience to environmental stresses. Dr. Pan’s research projects have covered a range of topics such as climate change and land use impacts on terrestrial productivity, water resources, natural disasters and ecosystem resilience, and water-food-energy nexus across many regions of the world including North America, Asia and Africa.

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

Air & Climate: Auburn University’s Sustainability Report

| SDG11, SDG13, SDG3, SDG7, STARS, Updates | No Comments
By Randy Martin, Office of Sustainability The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released its latest report assessing the current status and trends of climate change, future risks and the long- and near-term responses. This report contained a sentence that has stuck with me since I first read it: …

Campus Changemaker: Karen McNeal

| SDG13, SDG15, SDG16, SDG4, Sustainability in Action, Updates | No Comments
Karen on a hike with her family By Camille Colter, Office of Sustainability Karen McNeal is a professor of Geosciences within the College of Sciences and Mathematics, hired as one of the first disciple-based education researchers (DBERs). DBERs conduct nontraditional disciplinary research on education. Karen’s work focuses on understanding how…

The Weather is More than Small Talk: What I Learned from Climate Scientists on a Trip to the Southeast

| Guest Posts, SDG13, SDG16, SDG17, Updates | No Comments
By Sabrina De Los Santos Rodríguez Dark clouds over the Week's Bay boat. Photo credits: Sabrina De Los Santos Rodríguez On Sunday, August 7th, 2022 I was on a white van with seven other people - all climate science graduate students and professors with diverse specialties. We were leading the…

Climate Change: An Issue of Climate Justice

| Guest Posts, SDG1, SDG10, SDG13, SDG16, SDG17, SDG5, SDG6, Updates | No Comments
by Ghanashyam Khanal and Nabin Bhandari  While about two frenetic weeks of discussions and negotiations on climate change, damage and loss, and climate finance were going on at COP27 in Egypt, a documentary that depicted the impact of climate change on women and children in the Himalayan regions of Nepal…

The Big and Small ways to Celebrate Earth Day

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by Becki Retzlaff Every Earth Day I am reminded of two things. The first is when I was a teenager, and my friends and I volunteered to plant trees at a park near my home in Michigan. We labored all day to carefully plant little pine tree seedlings in long…

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