Over 7,000 higher and further institutions around the world have joined forces to declare a climate emergency and pledge to a range of actions that will tackle climate change.
These include going carbon neutral by 2030 or latest by 2050, emphasising “action-oriented” climate change research, and increasing environmental and sustainability education in curriculums and on campus.
25 university networks have agreed to this three-point plan. 58 institutions, ranging from the University of Guadalajara in Mexico to Strathmore University in Kenya, have also signed up individually.
The movement was organised by the Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education (EAUC), the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment)’s Youth and Education Alliance, as well as Second Nature, a higher education climate action organisation based in the United States.
They have encouraged governments to incentivise more institutions to join, and expect 10,000 others or more to join in before the end of this year.
UN Environment’s executive director Inger Andersen said: “What we teach shapes the future. We welcome this commitment from universities to go climate neutral by 2030 and to scale up their efforts on campus.”
We know that carrying on as we are is not going to achieve the kind of carbon reduction change in our society that we need to achieve to effectively be net zero as a society by 2050
– Kat Thorne
King’s College London (KCL), one of the institutions that individually signed up, has committed to net zero carbon by 2025.
Director of Sustainability at KCL Kat Thorne said: “We know that carrying on as we are is not going to achieve the kind of carbon reduction change in our society that we need to achieve to effectively be net zero as a society by 2050, and organisations like ours need to be achieving it before that.”
At the Trades Union Congress (TUC) this September, the University and College Union (UCU) will also call for a “30-minute solidarity climate stoppage”.
“Climate is a trade union issue,” said Jo Grady, UCU General Secretary-elect. “Trade unionists must play a central role in shaping the way society’s economic and social organisations meet the needs of future generations and the planet.”
944 students at the University of Warwick voted for the Students’ Union (SU) to declare a climate emergency in the last term of the 2018/19 academic year.