Recognising that the next ten years will be crucial to limit global temperature rise the University of Warwick is now declaring a state of Climate Emergency.
We have a responsibility as a community and organisation to help combat climate change through our individual actions, our research and teaching, and how we run and develop our university.
However declaring a climate emergency must be matched with ambitious plans and goals so the University is announcing that it aims to reach net zero carbon from our direct emissions and the energy we buy by 2030.
We will also work with our community to put in place initiatives to significantly reduce our indirect emissions with the aim of achieving net zero carbon for both direct and indirect emissions by 2050.
We are aware that we will not be able to achieve these ambitious targets without the alignment of policies and infrastructures such as public transport and ongoing decarbonisation of the UK electricity grid. That will depend on national governments (and our partners in local and regional policy making) delivering on their commitments in those areas, and creating and sustaining a supportive and enabling environment. We therefore welcome the fact that the last four months our partners in Coventry City Council, Warwick District Council, and Warwickshire County Council have all also recognised the same acute global crisis and have each declared a state of Climate Emergency.
The University has already operated its campus as a local energy system for two decades. We have published and revised a Carbon Management Plan since 2011 as part of a programme of actions and investments that have nearly halved the Scope 1 (direct) & Scope 2 (indirect) emissions per unit of income since 2005/6. We have also reduced water consumption across campus by 27% per staff and students FTE (full time equivalent numbers).
In 2018, we started developing a new Campus Masterplan, which has allowed us to embed the principles of a net zero goal into our plans and evaluate the options we must consider including how we construct and use our buildings, integrate transport, and use renewable energy.
The University’s Strategy 2030 includes an explicit commitment to develop sustainable transport, energy and a green campus and embed sustainable development principles across our strategies and delivery plans, To deliver this commitment, we must:
· Make a substantial reduction in how much energy is used in buildings, new and old.
· Have a sequence of investments that decarbonise the energy we use.
· Enhance how we run the campus as a smart, integrated, local energy system
· Draw on our own teaching and research to help find solutions and inspire behavioural change for our campus and far beyond.
· Engage and communicate with students, staff, visitors and the local community.
The decarbonisation of transport through electric vehicles, further reducing single occupancy car use, enhanced use of public transport, cycling and reductions in travel and commuting with online communications and flexible working are examples of how we can, and must, become more sustainable. We will also continue to work with our regional partners to lobby for more sustainable transport links to campus through rail, very light railway, cycle provision, and road improvements to reduce congestion and thereby cut emissions. The need for urgent action will require not only the University as an organisation to mobilise its resources, but for all of us in the University community to take our share of initiatives and responsibility to adopt necessary behaviour and practices.
This is a climate emergency and we must take action as an organisation and a community with the support, and equal commitment, of both national and local government.
This communication was first published 20 September 2019 by University of Warwick.