Two Whitman staff installing solar panels on roof.

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In late 2020, as the Paris Agreement entered its fifth year, myriad U.S. communities, businesses and institutions joined together to reaffirm their promise to address climate change. 

President Kathleen Murray signed the America Is All In statement, assuring Whitman’s commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change and pledging to partner with the Biden-Harris administration to tackle the climate crisis. 

The Paris Agreement, a legally-binding international treaty on climate change, aims to limit global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In 2017, in response to the pending withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, the We Are Still In initiative was launched. Whitman College was one of the 410 colleges and universities that signed the We Are Still In declaration. 

Whitman has adopted a conscientious commitment to sustainability and climate action, says Campus Sustainability Coordinator Elissa Brown. “Whitman’s dedication to advancing sustainability, particularly in recent years, is producing measurable and meaningful results.” 

The 2020 reaffirmation statement has over 1,500 signatories including cities, states, tribal nations, businesses, universities, colleges, faith communities, health care organizations and more.

A Youthful Movement

Whitman students are actively engaged with climate change, sustainability and environmentalism. On campus, groups and organizations such as the Campus Climate Coalition (CCC), the Glean Team, the Organic Garden and the Environmental Studies Interest House or “Outhouse’’ are all focused on sustainable practices and green thinking. The Associated Students of Whitman College (ASWC) has a sustainability committee that works to advocate on behalf of students in regard to sustainability programs, policies and initiatives on campus. 

In the local community, Whitman CCC members lead the Cool the Schools Initiative that promotes climate change education in classrooms. Many students are active with Sunrise Walla Walla, a local chapter of a national organization, the Sunrise Movement, which promotes the Green New Deal with an emphasis on youth-led climate activism. 

Green is the Color of the Year

The Princeton Review placed Whitman at No. 9 on its list of the 2021 Top 50 Green Colleges.

Whitman ranked highest among schools from the Pacific Northwest. This ranking acknowledges the college’s efforts to promote sustainability and environmental responsibility on and off campus.