Warnings from environmentalists about the dangers of climate change have become louder and louder over the past few years. If we don’t drastically cut carbon emissions, there could be serious repercussions for the planet.
Many universities are providing great examples of how to combat climate change through pledging to hit zero carbon emissions, refitting buildings to be more energy efficient and arming students with the knowledge and skills to make individual changes.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) look to tackle some of today’s biggest global issues, and one of them, SDG 13, covers climate action.
As part of the Impact Rankings, Times Higher Education has produced a ranking focusing on how universities are contributing to climate action. Some of the measures taken into account for the ranking are low-carbon energy use, the presence of a university-wide climate action plan, and working with local or national governments to address climate-change planning. You can read more about the methodology here.
Top five universities for climate action
The University of Tasmania scored highly in a range of metrics for the SDG 13 climate action ranking including the number of climate action papers published, low carbon energy tracking, the number of local education programmes about climate and its commitment to carbon neutrality.
The Climate Futures Research Group at the university works with industry and government agencies around Australia to create projections on the impact of climate change on a range of sectors including wine production and ski resorts.
The University of Victoria has a strategic framework in place outlining the measures it will take to tackle climate change by 2023.
One of the measures laid out in the framework is to ensure that students are engaged with the principles of sustainability and have the opportunity to develop their knowledge in sustainable practices.
The university is also currently in the process of consulting staff, students and the local community on a climate and sustainability action plan that will outline measurable outcomes for the university’s commitment to sustainability. The plan is set to launch in the autumn of 2022.
Wageningen University & Research has a number of courses for students to study in the area of climate action and sustainability. The master’s programme in climate studies looks at the socio-economic aspects of climate change and also gives the students the opportunity to specialise in an area of research they are most interested in.
Wageningen Climate Solutions is dedicated to undertaking research in various areas of sustainability including agriculture, water management and circular solutions for waste.
Arizona State University’s College of Global Futures aims to give students the opportunity to make a long-term impact. Students can enrol on courses that focus on sustainability and innovation. The institution also partners with community businesses and organisations to provide undergraduate and postgraduate research opportunities and internships.
Sustainability Connect is a platform that enables students to connect with sustainability projects and internships in the university and the wider community.
The university also achieved zero greenhouse gas emissions from campus operations in 2019, six years before its promised date of 2025.
King Abdulaziz University has a range of research centres conducting research into areas relating to the SDGs, and climate action in particular, including the Centre of Excellence in Environmental Studies, the Centre of Excellence for Climate Change Research and the Water Research Centre.
The main aim of these research centres is to provide information to domestic and regional policymakers in order to implement sustainable practices within their climate action frameworks.
Research areas include studying global climate change and its impact on Saudi Arabia and analysing the extremes of the climate for the Arabian Peninsula.