University of Glasgow announces ambitious carbon neutrality target

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THE University of Glasgow has pledged to go ‘further and faster’ in its response to the climate emergency with a raft of new commitments.

As part of its target of carbon neutrality by 2030, the university said it will invest in high-quality offsetting programmes including reforesting land or restoring peatland in Scotland, and similar projects in low- and middle-income countries around the world.

A document accompanying the strategy, titled Glasgow Green: The University of Glasgow’s Response to the Climate Emergency, was compiled following the results of a survey completed by 1,300 students and university staff, consultation seminars with staff and students, and discussions at the university’s senior management group, senate and student experience committees.

The document sets out a pathway for the university to reduce its carbon footprint and outlines five key sets of climate actions that the university will undertake in the coming years. They are as follows:

Engaging and Empowering Our Community: This section sets out how the entire university community will become part of efforts to deal with the climate emergency, including the development a new ECO-HUB space, green careers fairs for students and more support for academics engaged in sustainability research.

Promoting Efficiency: The University is committing to a series of new efficiency drives, including an asset management strategy to improve energy use and climate resilience, employing new renewable energy generation technologies, and reducing unnecessary travel through improved video and telecommunications strategies.

Governance and Policy: New plans to integrate sustainability at the heart of top-level decisions include a review of existing environmental policies, continued disinvestment in fossil fuels, plans to further reduce business travel, and showcasing the University’s research output and impact at COP26.

Continuous Improvement Initiatives: A series of commitments to reduce waste include improving internal recycling facilities, phasing out single-use plastics from catering operations, and furthering efforts to make the University’s supply chain sustainable.

Building Resilience through Partnerships: The University is setting out to lead or contribute to climate change partnerships, including a continuation of the Climate Ready Clyde partnership, fundraising for new projects, and working more closely with other universities and national sustainability bodies.

The university’s chief operating officer and university secretary, Dr David Duncan, is co-chair of the university’s sustainability working group, which co-ordinated the agreement of the strategy.

Dr Duncan said, “Universities have a unique role to play in the fight against climate change. We are educators, researchers, and contributors to our local communities. It is vital that we rise to the challenge of shaping a liveable world for future generations.

“We believe that our new strategy is a very significant plan to ramp up our existing efforts to deal with the climate emergency, both locally and internationally.”