The climate agenda is rising fast with the recent youth-led action, as well as declarations, targets and plans emerging from governments, businesses and organisations in all sectors. In our sector, we are seeing an increasing momentum for universities to take more ambitious and meaningful action.
We thought you might like to know the latest headlines on the actions our university is taking to respond on climate change and what is in the pipeline:
- Positive emissions reductions – since 2005 we have reduced our direct carbon emissions by 47% – and have maintained this despite our campus development projects, which is solid progress compared to other universities that have continued to increase their emissions as they develop.
- Fossil fuel divestment – we were proud to announce complete and immediate fossil fuel divestment in 2018 thanks to joint action by staff and students at all levels, demonstrating how we can direct the power of our investments for good.
- Student-led climate action – Yolande Booyse, leader of our student Green Team organised the Cheltenham action that saw hundreds take part, including students and young people from local schools as well as staff and local people. You can catch up on her blog on the day here.
- County Energy Strategy – students and staff joined the launch of Gloucestershire Energy Strategy in May and we have a seat on the group that developed it. As follow up, our student leaders were asked to join the youth panel to help drive its implementation.
- Sector renewables deal – this summer we signed a £50m group corporate power purchase agreement (PPA) with 19 other universities, through the sector energy purchasing consortium TEC, that sources power from a portfolio of UK windfarms.
- New solar panels – the process is under way to installed new solar panels at Oxstalls under a unique PPA which is due to complete this year. This will exceed the current goal on increasing renewables in our carbon plan and is forecast to bring us annual savings of around £12K.
- Responsible construction – both the Pittville Student Village development and the new Business School Growth Hub at Oxstalls achieved the BREEAM Excellent standard for their energy management features that enhance the sustainability features of our campuses.
- Sector developments – the Vice Chancellor has joined the new Climate Commission that starts work on 13th November in partnership with EAUC, Universities UK, GuildHE and the Association of Colleges, aiming to develop measurable action on carbon across the tertiary sector.
Our carbon reductions and fossil fuel divestment were 2 score areas that contributed to our rise to the top of the UK sustainability league run by student organisation People and Planet in 2019.
Following the climate action, the Vice Chancellor met with the Green Team, Prof David James and the Sustainability Team to discuss the University’s next steps to support climate action and carbon reduction.
Find out more about sustainability activities across the University and ways you can support on our new website. To play your part in supporting climate action at work remember to:
- Think sustainably in your own routine actions – avoid new purchases by checking the SHARE swap site, switch things off where possible, and avoid single-use items at your events.
- Report any repairs needed, or inefficiencies in how your buildings are lit and heated, to the Estates helpdesk – they may be able to help with adjustments to controls that will also save money.
Footnote April 2020: The PPA solar panel installation was postponed