Universities and colleges declare climate emergency

More than 7,000 higher and further education institutions from around the world have come together to address the climate crisis

Over 7,000 further and higher education institutions have come together for the first time to declare a climate emergency.

The group have penned an open letter, committing to undertake a three-point plan to address the crisis through work with students.

The plan’s points are:

  • Committing to going carbon-neutral by 2030, or 2050 at the very latest;
  • Mobilising more resources for action-oriented climate change research and skills creation;
  • Increasing the delivery of environmental and sustainability education across curriculums, campuses, and community outreach programmes.

Organised by The Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education, known as EUAC, US-based HE climate action organisation Second Nature, and the UN Environment’s Youth and Action Alliance, the letter has been signed by universities from six continents, and was presented to ministers meeting in New York last week at the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative.

What we teach shapes the future. We welcome this commitment from universities to go climate neutral by 2030 and scale up their efforts on campus.
– Inger Anderson, UN Environment

Universities that have signed the letter include:

  • Strathmore University, Kenya
  • Tongji University, China
  • KEDGE Business School, France
  • University of Glasgow, UK
  • California State University, USA
  • Zayed University, UAE
  • University of Guadalajara, Mexico

Inger Andersen, executive director of UN Environment, said: “What we teach shapes the future. We welcome this commitment from universities to go climate neutral by 2030 and scale up their efforts on campus.

“Young people are increasingly at the forefront of calls for more action on climate and environmental challenges. Initiatives which directly involve the youth in this critical work are a valuable contribution to achieving environmental sustainability.”

It is expected that over 10,000 higher and further education institutions will sign up to the commitment before the end of 2019, with governments invited to support their leadership with incentives to take action.

More information about The Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education is available at www.eauc.org.uk

For a closer look at how tech plays into the climate crisis conversation, see the upcoming report in the September issue of ET.