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 2023 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, a commitment to carbon-neutrality and working with local or national governments to address climate change. 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 climate action ranking, including for 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 university’s Climate Futures Research Group 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.
2. UNSW Sydney
UNSW Sydney is the second university from Australia to feature in the top five for SDG 13.
The university has made a range of commitments to tackle climate change, including 30 per cent less emissions by 2025, 50 per cent less emissions by 2030 and to be net zero by 2050.
The Climate Change Network is a network of staff and students who hold regular events and activities to combat climate change within the university and the local community.
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 of sustainable practices.
The university has also consulted staff, students and the local community on a climate and sustainability action plan that outlines measurable outcomes for the university’s commitment to sustainability.
Since 2010, the University of British Columbia has had a climate action plan in place called Climate Action 2020. Some of the measures laid out in the plan include aims to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, to use the university as a lab to develop climate change solutions and to take full account for the costs of its decisions on sustainability.
The university also organises UBC Reads Sustainability, a forum where students across disciplines can discuss issues on sustainability. The forum is part book club, part lecture series.
UBC has a website dedicated to sustainability, where students can find out more about what the university is doing to be more sustainable, upcoming events, tips on how to be more environmentally-friendly and student groups on climate action.
Rounding off the top five is Simon Fraser University, also in Canada.
The university offers more than 230 sustainability courses, and its environmental science programme has been running for more than 25 years.
In 2019 the university opened its School of Sustainable Energy Engineering.