Sphere (November 2021)

If you're interested in contributing to a future edition of Sphere, please email the Sustainable Earth Institute on sei@plymouth.ac.uk

"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

Vice-Chancellor

University of Plymouth

COP26 key themes

  • Finance
  • Energy
  • Youth and public engagement
  • Nature
  • Adaptation, loss and damage
  • Gender
  • Science and innovation
  • Transport
  • Cities, regions and built environment


Smart technology delivers carbon savings for COP26 transportation

With over 30,000 official delegates and support staff expected at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow on 31 October – 12 November 2021, how will the City and its wider environs cope with such mass movement of people? The COP26 organisers asked Dr Andrew Seedhouse of the University of Plymouth's Sustainable Earth Institute and School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences for assistance implementing sustainable transport at the conference.

Read more about this sustainability effort at COP26