Harvard is committed to nutrition of plant origin to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Harvard University plans to focus on promoting plant-based food, as part of a global initiative aimed at slashing food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2030.  

To that effect, Harvard signed a kind of pledge called Cool Food Pledge, set up by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the United Nations Environment Program, and all in order to fulfill the promise to make Harvard fossil fuel free by 2050. The decision to join this pledge builds on years of collaborative, research-driven sustainable food programming already in place across the University and it complements a suite of University-wide initiatives aimed at making Harvard fossil fuel neutral by 2026, and fossil fuel free by 2050.

The university's official press, The Harvard Gazette, interviewed the Executive Vice President Katie Lapp, who stated, “Addressing the emissions associated with our food choices is a focal part of Harvard’s holistic approach to using our campus as a testbed to address climate change and sustainability. This pledge gives us a common science-based collective target and a way of learning together with institutions around the world as we strive to create a more sustainable food system.”

Sustainability, energy conservation and healthy diet are just some of the areas Harvard plans to focus on in pursuit of its long-term goals.

“Climate change is accelerating, and Americans are the greatest contributors to it because of our diets and lifestyles,” said Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the T.H. Chan School of Public Health and co-chair of Harvard’s Food Standards Committee, and added “Among the many changes we need to make, including a rapid shift to green energy, is a change in diet to a more plant-based way of eating. If we do this right, such changes will also lead to improvements in health and many other aspects of our environment. The actions of every individual are important, but because Harvard intends to be a leadership institution and educates people who will be leaders, steps such as the Cool Food Pledge can be particularly impactful.”

Harvard students have been developing programs to support these food sustainability goals across campus — all as part of Harvard’s Living Lab Initiative, which encourages students, faculty, and staff to think of the campus as place to test innovative solutions to global sustainability challenges.