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Climate action report

Universities commit to action on climate

Published on: 20 October 2021

Newcastle University is joining higher education institutions in throwing its full support behind government's aims to cut carbon emissions as part of efforts to combat the global climate emergency.

Ahead of COP26, 140 universities have backed a new set of commitments on climate action drawn up by Universities UK, including emissions reduction targets and a pledge to champion the UN Sustainable Development Goals Accord.

Newcastle University has committed, following its Climate Emergency Statement, to net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. Achieving this is going to involve improving activities and infrastructure across many areas of the University.

For over a century, UK universities have led pioneering research into the causes and effects of climate change, and shared their expertise with government, businesses and local communities.

Newcastle University will support more than 200 undergraduate students to work on research projects that address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Confronting climate crisis

As detailed in a new UUK report, Confronting the climate emergency: a commitment from UK universities, universities have also made great strides in making campuses sustainable and are investing in the future by equipping students with the knowledge, skills and climate literacy the world needs to find solutions to the climate crisis.

Professor Julie Sanders, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost at Newcastle University who is a member of the UUK Climate Task and Finish group said: "Our University has moved quickly in setting targets to achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions within a decade.

"While there is much work to do in the context of the climate emergency, as a Higher Education institution with a commitment to global social and environmental justice, it has been vitally important to us that we listen to people all around the world who are calling for urgent action, especially young people.

"What is truly significant about today is that UK universities have committed to working together in support of the government’s plans and this is a vital step forward."

University leaders are now calling on the government to ensure that the overall contribution of universities to climate action is not constrained by budget cuts.

Benefitting Society

Professor Judith Petts CBE, Chair of the Universities UK Climate Task and Finish Group, said: “There is no simple solution to the climate crisis, with every sector of the economy facing a different set of challenges.

"Universities are some of the most effective weapons in the UK’s climate and environmental armoury. Our research and expertise is behind the deep understanding of climate change as well as the technological advances driving decarbonisation and building resilience. We are also equipping graduates with the skills and determination we need to respond to the climate crisis, generating the leaders of tomorrow to deliver public and environmental good.

“The commitments universities are making are far more than simply touting our eco-credentials. But we need government to support sustainable funding for the sector rather than further cuts, and specifically we hope that they will recognise the opportunities of the COP26 scholarships.

"With stable funding UK universities will continue to pioneer approaches and provide the world with the science, skills, and talent needed to safeguard the future of the planet.”

For more information on how universities are addressing the climate and ecological emergency click here


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