The University Network

Climate Reality’s Campus Corps: How Students Can Tackle Climate Change

“We’re messing with Mother Nature and we’re making all these extreme events more intense and more common,” Al Gore told a packed room of climate activists today at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It’s Day Two of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training, and Gore was offering a summary of a scientific panel he just moderated.

He continued:

“But now we’re also messing with the sort of basic circulation patterns of the planet, and you know human civilizations, the first cities were less than 10,000 years ago. After the last Ice Age ended, it took maybe a millennium for a new equilibrium pattern to settle in. That’s all that we’ve ever known. And based on that pattern, that’s where we located our cities, that’s where we located the productive farming areas, … that’s the pattern within which human civilization has arisen, and now we’re messing with all of that. … [Hurricane] Harvey was such an awful event, but it fits into this new pattern that also explains so many of the other phenomena that we’re talking about.”

Today’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps is the 36th training program Gore has led, and is the biggest ever.

Today’s event is filled with scientists, teachers, student and other activists from around the world. To them, climate change is a reality, not fiction.

That was driven home in 2006, when Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” was released, setting the world on fire and placing climate change on everyone’s lips.

The critical state of our planet was further highlighted this past summer with the release of “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” which documents Gore’s continuing battle against climate change as he traveled around the world training ordinary citizens to be Climate Reality Leaders and meeting with global leaders to build a global alliance on climate action.   

The Climate Reality Project

In 2006, Gore also founded The Climate Reality Project, an organization peopled with passionate climate activists, all eager to raise awareness of the climate crisis and propel everyone into action.


To send an effective message, Climate Reality makes vital resources available and teaches climate activists how to, among other things, answer 12 questions commonly heard by activists.

Climate Reality Campus Corps  

In keeping with its mission, Climate Reality introduced Campus Corps two years ago.

Campus Corps is an initiative to inspire college students to embrace the fight against climate change and bring climate action to their campus. To date, 33 campuses have embraced the cause.

Campus Corps is for “young people concerned about their opportunities in a world shaped by climate change.” It provides an avenue for them to take charge and create their own future. It gives them the opportunity to join and participate in its “100% Committed” campaign, so they can “personally play a key role in the historic movement that will transform the global economy, solve the greatest challenge of our time, and create a safe, sustainable, and prosperous future for us all.”

The goal of the initiative is to have student activists involved in its “100% Renewable Electricity Campaign” at universities across the country, so they can build student pressure, over several years, to convince administrators to embrace renewable energy and sustainability and use only renewable energy throughout their campus by 2030. Campus Corps helps students design campaigns and organize other students to apply pressure and convince their schools to make the switch.

In addition to campus climate action, Campus Corps also helps students support bold national climate policies, such as climate justice. It gives students the knowledge and resources they need to take action and stop inequities and discrimination resulting from, or magnified by, climate change.


Student involvement is key to winning the battle against climate change. According to Campus Corps, if “college students in mass” were to get their electricity from renewable energy, it would prevent 297 billions pounds of C02 emissions.

It is critical therefore for students to get involved. The cause is important now more than ever since the U.S. has pulled out of the Paris Agreement.

While universities are doing their part to reverse climate change, Campus Corps wants to do more. Campus Corps wants to light a fire under students, so they become the driving force to achieve policies that are beneficial to the environment at the local, state, and national levels.

Climate Reality Leadership Corps

College students who want in-depth training, so they can educate their communities and empower them to take action, can also sign up for the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training.

Each Leadership Corps training course is a three-day program that’s offered free to those interested in the program. While attendees have to pay for their own transportation and lodging, and college students generally have a tight budget, that doesn’t, and shouldn’t, stop them from attending.

According to Meredith Soward, a University of Notre Dame student and recently trained Climate Reality Leader, there are ways to fund the trip and make attending a training course possible.

The training course is open to anyone who’s deeply committed to making a difference and helping to create a healthier planet. Participating activists learn all about the science of climate change, how climate change has an impact around the world, the solutions that are available, how to organize grassroots initiatives, how to engage the media, and other helpful ways to effect change.


Typically, speakers for the training sessions come from across the world.

Past speakers include: Larry Schweiger, former president and CEO of National Wildlife Federation; Dr. Robin Gunning, principal research scientist at New South Wales Department of Primary Industries; Ajay Mathur, director general of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency in India; Merran Smith, executive director of Clean Energy Canada; Katharine Hayhoe, an associate professor for the Department of Political Science and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University; and Dr. Li Lin, executive director of programs of World Wildlife Fund China.

Gore himself participates in training sessions to inspire climate activists to bring about a better future for our planet.

His message is simple but evocative: “Solving the climate crisis is within our grasp, but we need people like you to STAND UP AND ACT.”

A Leadership Corps training is underway in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; it started yesterday and will end tomorrow.

Yesterday’s training included a 500-slide presentation by Gore who highlighted the consequences of climate change.

While much of the presentation focused on where we are, and how bad things could get if left unchanged, Gore appeared more optimistic towards the end. He observed that there was no increase in carbon dioxide emissions worldwide during the past four years.

“That means we’ve stabilized,” he noted, “but at 110 million tons a day, we still need to bring that way, way down.”

If there is a new president in 2020, he said while making a gesture to pray, “a new president can simply rejoin the Paris Agreement with 30 days notice.”

Gore ended his presentation with a quote from Wallace Stevens: “After the final no, there comes a yes. And on that yes the future world depends.”

This morning, Gore moderated a panel discussion between Dr. Jennifer Francis, a research professor in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University, and Dr. Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State University.

The panel discussed the scientific connection between climate change and increasingly common record-breaking hurricanes, drought and other persistent weather patterns. The panel also brought up the risks of new areas being hit by hurricanes, using Hurricane Ophelia, which hit Ireland just this week, as an example.

College students who are interested in bringing climate action to their campus can learn more here. College students can sign up for the next Leadership Corps training here.