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"There is no question the UK’s universities are serious about tackling the climate emergency.
Recently, I helped Universities UK launch its first set of climate commitments. They positioned 140 of the country’s universities squarely behind the government’s aims to cut carbon emissions by 78% by 2035, and to reach net zero by 2050.
These commitments are much more than an attempt to simply tout our eco-credentials ahead of COP26. They are part of ongoing efforts to inspire awareness and action at every level. They also reinforce a feeling I have long held – that universities are some of the most effective weapons in the UK’s climate and environmental armoury.
The University of Plymouth has always led the world in this sphere. That was further evidenced when we were named among the top 25 institutions globally in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2021, the only performance tables assessing universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Our academics are applying a whole-systems approach to climate research dedicated to generating greater understanding, highlighting impacts and providing solutions. We are also using that research to embed climate literacy and sustainability education across our courses. And we are on-track for net zero scope 1&2 emissions by 2025, five years faster than originally planned.
This level of leadership and collaboration is the only way to inspire positive and lasting change. And through it, we can make a genuine difference for both future generations and our planet as a whole.
This edition of Sphere highlights just a small selection of examples of how our research and partnerships with the wider world align with the key themes addressed at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26."
Professor Judith Petts CBE
University of Plymouth
COP26 key themes
COP26 key themes
COP26 theme: Finance, youth and public engagement
COP26 theme: Nature, energy, adaptation, loss and damage
COP26 theme: Gender, science and innovation, built environment