Universities – including the University of Plymouth – are joining the climate emergency declaration called for by EAUC. But this isn’t just about the essential need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions rapidly.
Adapting the ways in which we live, including our infrastructures, to survive future climate is also essential. And, of course, adaptation to reduce vulnerability to future climates has many synergies with the goals of sustainable development – ensuring food and water security, reducing disaster risks, maintaining healthy ecosystems, improving people’s health and reducing poverty and inequality. All of this requires a complex mix of technical fixes, social empowerment and changed behaviours.
As a university, we have a vital role to play in raising awareness around climate change. But we must also get our own house in order in terms of carbon emissions and we are doing so. We have cut CO2 emissions by 42 per cent since 1990, reduced our water usage by 50 per cent since 2005/06 and transformed the way we handle waste and how we generate energy.
But there is always more to do, which is why we have now committed to a net zero emissions target (scope 1 and 2) by 2025, five years earlier than both we had originally planned and as set out in the international climate emergency declaration.