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Sen. Tammy Duckworth to speak at inaugural Buffett Fireside Chat

The Illinois senator will highlight efforts to tackle climate change

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) will participate in the inaugural Buffett Fireside Chat Thursday, Dec. 2, at the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Affairs at Northwestern University.

The event will take place at 1 p.m. over Zoom. Registration is required. The Fireside Chat will be moderated by Annelise Riles, executive director of Northwestern Buffett and associate provost for Global Affairs.

Tammy Duckworth
Tammy Duckworth

The Buffett Fireside Chat Series is designed to honor global leaders for their contributions to peace and justice internationally and provide a forum for critical dialogue on global affairs.

Sen. Duckworth has been a leading voice on environmental issues. She is a founding member of the Environmental Justice Caucus, the first-ever in the Senate. The caucus brings attention to the disproportionate burden placed on low-income communities across the nation and seeks to advance legislation to help communities affected by polluting industries. 

“Every American has the right to breathe safe air, drink clean water and live on uncontaminated land regardless of their zip code, the size of their wallet and the color of their skin,” Duckworth said in 2019 upon founding the caucus.

Sen. Duckworth this year authored the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021, which passed the Senate by a bipartisan vote of 89-2, and was included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Duckworth was able to secure provisions that will help rebuild the nation’s water infrastructure, provide $15 billion for lead pipe replacement, $4 billion to address PFAS in drinking water, among other investments. She also was able to create a $1.75 billion fund to ensure transit stations are accessible to people with disabilities.

“We’re so honored to welcome Senator Tammy Duckworth as our inaugural speaker in the Buffett Fireside Chat Series,” Riles said. “Senator Duckworth is tackling one of the world’s most critical challenges — climate change — through her leadership on issues of environmental and intergenerational justice. We are eager to learn from Senator Duckworth’s experiences as we work to fulfill our commitments to climate action at Northwestern and lead the U7+ Alliance of World Universities in addressing a broad spectrum of challenges to sustainability.

Duckworth is also the chair of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works’ (EPW) Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water and Wildlife and is a member of the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis.

Sen. Duckworth is an Iraq War veteran, Purple Heart recipient and former assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs who was among the first handful of Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Duckworth served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant colonel in 2014. She was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016 after representing Illinois’s Eighth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives for two terms. 

Northwestern at COP26

Northwestern University earlier this month sent delegates to the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). The delegates were able to observe climate negotiations firsthand, look at the inclusion of Indigenous voices and meet with U7+ Alliance universities to further cement collaborations on environmental issues. Last October, Northwestern rallied 29 universities from 12 countries to commit to lowering emissions and enhancing access to climate and sustainability courses for students.

Northwestern is the first university in the United States to be consecutively awarded Energy Star Partner of the Year in 2018 and 2019. The University also earned the Energy Star Sustained Excellence award in 2020 and 2021 for continued leadership in energy efficiency and energy conservation.