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Harvard is accelerating a fossil fuel-free world

Harvard is focused on accelerating the adoption of clean energy and completely transitioning away from fossil fuels—creating a model for a healthier, decarbonized world. We have developed a holistic plan that includes our fossil fuel-free goal and a focus on reducing value-chain emissions, encompassing the University’s direct and indirect emissions.

Fossil Fuel Goals

Goal Zero: A fossil fuel-free Harvard  

Harvard set a goal to be fossil fuel-free by 2050. This goal is more ambitious than simply becoming “carbon neutral,” which means buying renewable energy and investing in offset projects like planting trees to absorb equivalent amounts of carbon emitted. 

Goal Zero is focused on eliminating the use of fossil fuels—to the point where offsets are no longer needed. By recognizing the full set of damages caused by our use of fossil fuels, rather than only carbon emissions, Harvard is seeking to reduce the negative health impacts of fossil fuel use and production. Fossil fuels are also a main ingredient in many plastics and toxic chemicals, which is why we also aim to reduce those as a part of our mission to reduce waste and create a healthier value chain. 

Yellow graphic illustrating that Goal Zero is the sum of four actions: fossil fuel-free district energy, 100% renewable electricity, zero fossil fuels in buildings, and an electric vehicle fleet.

Fossil Fuel-Neutral by 2026

As a bridge to reach Goal Zero, Harvard has a short-term objective to be fossil fuel-neutral by 2026. This means Harvard will zero out campus emissions (Scope 1 and Scope 2). It also means funding projects that zero out both greenhouse gas emissions and the health impacts from our use of fossil fuels, such as those caused by air pollution, to create positive benefits for human health, social equity, and ecosystems.  

Why fossil fuel-free?

  • Burning fossil fuels is the primary driver of climate change. The use of fossil fuels pollutes the air and water—damaging human health and disproportionately harming vulnerable communities.
  • Focusing on addressing the wider harmful impacts of fossil fuels, rather than only greenhouse gas emissions, enables Harvard to drive progress across climate, equity, and health.


Sustainability Action Plan

View the full plan

Screenshot of the cover of Harvard's Sustainability Action Plan against a background of solar panels.