The University of Exeter has today declared an environment and climate emergency to support those calling for urgent action and show commitment to leading the change required
There are increasing calls for urgent action with governments, councils and a range of organisations declaring an environment and climate emergency.
The University of Exeter fully supports these declarations and is at the forefront of environment and climate change research to ensure substantive action based on evidence and science.
Professor Sir Steve Smith, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Exeter said:
“At the University of Exeter, we have some of the best teams anywhere in the world working on climate change and the environment. Our scientists and experts in a wide range of subjects are showing leadership and courage presenting the evidence and potential solutions, influencing governments, businesses and communities.
“We are working with policy makers locally, nationally and globally and will continue to work in partnership at every level from local councils to The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at the United Nations to make a difference. As a university we have committed to reduce carbon emissions, established a sustainability strategy and developed an ethical investment policy.
“In September 2019, we will launch our new Masters in Global Sustainability Solutions to support a new generation who can continue to innovate and lead the transformation required.
“We know though that we need to go further and faster, and we have been inspired by our staff, students and community to ensure we grasp the opportunity – indeed obligation – to show greater leadership on the climate emergency facing all of us.
“The future of our planet and community is at stake. We want to support those calling for urgent action and show our commitment to leading the change required by declaring an environment and climate emergency.
“We know though that simply declaring an environment and climate emergency is not enough. The challenges we face require brave leadership, financial investment, organisational and structural transformation and human behaviour change on a scale we have never seen before.
“From today, we will bring together our world leading experts on climate change and the environment to develop a specific set of actions and a programme of work that has substance and will make a difference based on evidence and science. Professor Juliet Osborne, Director of the Environment and Sustainability Institute, will be chairing a working group bringing together staff and students so that the University moves from declaring a climate emergency to a plan of action that we can measure by the Autumn.
“Our mission, at the University of Exeter, is to make the exceptional happen by challenging traditional thinking and defying conventional boundaries. There is no greater challenge today than addressing the environment and climate emergency and we intend to play a full part in leading the changes required locally, nationally and globally.”
The University of Exeter aims to be an exemplar and leader in the higher education sector, consistent with our international reputation for research on the environment and climate change.
In September 2018, the University of Exeter announced a new carbon reduction target that commits the organisation to achieving a 50 per cent reduction in energy-related carbon emissions by 2026 in comparison to 2005-06. As part of this commitment, the University approved the first phase of its 2016-2026 Low Carbon Commitment Implementation Plan. This first phase of projects includes solar PV installations, energy-efficient lighting, upgraded insulation and boiler replacements to be delivered over the next two academic years. The current targets and implementation plan will be revised in acknowledgement of the environment and climate emergency.
The remit of Professor Osborne’s group will include a number of core actions:
a) To utilise our significant research strength to create a challenging but achievable long-term carbon management strategy, with the aim of reducing direct emissions from energy use as rapidly as possible.
b) To identify further substantial and transformative actions that the University of Exeter will take to reduce our impacts on the environment and the climate, in areas such as procurement, waste management and travel policies.
c) To review our current approach to environmental sustainability; and prioritise areas requiring most urgent attention.
This new approach will require a step change in bringing people together across the university and the way we work with the wider community. For example, the Environment and Sustainability Institute will host an event with Cornwall Council on 3 June and a public event will be held on the Streatham campus on 23 May looking at action beyond the declaration of a climate emergency hosted by the Global Systems Institute – a team led by Professor Tim Lenton.
For more information about the climate emergency public event on 23 May visit: http://climateemergencyexeter.eventbrite.co.uk
Date: 20 May 2019