Colleges and universities will next week launch a climate commission to find ways to combat the climate emergency.
The Association of Colleges (AoC), EAUC, GuildHE and Universities UK are calling on principals and vice-chancellors to prepare their institutions for and take action against the climate crisis.
Over the next 12 months, the Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education Leaders, which will be officially launched on 13 November at Ravensbourne University London, will develop a strategic framework and set ambitious targets, including proposals for ensuring progress.
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The commission’s council will work with students, UK government, regulatory bodies and sector agencies. It will also seek expert evidence from academics and researchers to consider how to use existing good practice and encourage greater collaboration.
Colleges fighting climate change
It will collaborate with institutions to ensure they reach the UK government’s target of reducing all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
A final report will be presented at COP26, the UN’s climate change summit, in Glasgow in November 2020.
Steve Frampton, AoC president and commissioner, said: “It is vital that colleges play an integral role in tackling the climate emergency. Alongside our partners, we have a uniquely powerful opportunity to raise the profile of these issues as an educator and crucially as an employer as well. Students are often the best at taking proactive steps to tackle the issues that will affect the next generation – colleges have a duty to empower them to create a sustainable future.
"Colleges, as employers, can also make decisions about where and who they invest in, with huge purchasing power. There is much work to be done, and the commission will provide innovative, joined-up solutions to one of the most urgent crises we face.”
Lord Deben, chair of the UK's independent Committee on Climate Change, said: “Universities and colleges have a centrally important role to play in tackling climate change. Reaching net-zero emissions is essential, it is feasible and, as a sector dedicated to knowledge and thought leadership, it is rightfully expected. The commission has the ability to bring the full force of the UK’s expansive and powerful tertiary education sector to bear on climate change, with students and staff working together to lead the charge. I look forward to seeing the results presented at COP 26 in Glasgow.”