Top universities for climate action

Explore the top 100 universities for climate action, based on data collected as part of the Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings

April 22 2020
Best universities for climate action

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 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 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 considered as part of the ranking are low carbon energy use, the presence of a university-wide climate action plan, and working with local or national government to address climate change planning. You can read more about the methodology here.

Top five universities for climate action

1. University of British Columbia

Since 2010, the University of British Columbia has had a plan in place called Climate Action 2020. Some of the measures laid out in the plan include aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 100 per cent 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. 

The university 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. 

2. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam 

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam conducts research across a number of environmental areas such as water and climate risk, environmental economics and environmental policy analysis. 

Students that would like to make sustainability part of their studies can choose from 10 bachelor’s programmes, nine minors and 19 master’s programmes. 


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3. University of Tasmania

The University of Tasmania is committed to improving energy efficiency and reducing overall energy use. The university’s Energy Strategy 2018-22 is designed to enhance energy security, reduce energy costs and consumption, and reduce energy-related carbon emissions.

The university was also the second university in Australia to be certified carbon neutral back in 2016. 

There are also a number of programmes that encourage recycling and reusing items. 

4. University of Victoria

As part of its approach to become a more sustainable institution, the University of Victoria has created a Sustainability Action Plan, which includes measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce campus natural gas consumption and reduce waste.

A number of campaigns are held across the year including Sustainability Week, Holiday Shutdown and Love-A-Mug week. 

5. Peter the Great St Petersburg Polytechnic University

Peter the Great St Petersburg Polytechnic University offers a number of courses for students around energy efficiency and sustainable development. These are full-time courses as well as summer school courses. 


The top universities for climate action 2020: top 100

Climate Action Rank 2020 University Country/region
1 University of British Columbia Canada
2 Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam Netherlands
3 University of Tasmania Australia
4 University of Victoria Canada
5 Peter the Great St Petersburg Polytechnic University Russian Federation
6 University of Helsinki Finland
7 University at Buffalo United States
8 Laval University Canada
9 Simon Fraser University Canada
10 Pontifical Bolivarian University (UPB) – Medellín Colombia
11 University of Costa Rica Costa Rica
12 Pompeu Fabra University Spain
13 Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur India
14 Riga Technical University Latvia
15 University of L’Aquila Italy
16 Qatar University Qatar
17 Technical University of Madrid Spain
18 University of Zaragoza Spain
=19 Concordia University Canada
=19 Paris Sciences et Lettres – PSL Research University Paris France
21 CES University Colombia
22 EAFIT University Colombia
23 Autonomous University of Barcelona Spain
24 National Taiwan University Taiwan
25 Iran University of Medical Sciences Iran
26 University of Dundee United Kingdom
=27 University of Malaya Malaysia
=27 University of Valencia Spain
29 University of Otago New Zealand
30 University of Sistan and Baluchestan Iran
31 Northern Arizona University United States
=32 SOAS University of London United Kingdom
=32 University of Valladolid Spain
=34 Bournemouth University United Kingdom
=34 Lappeenranta-Lahti University of Technology LUT Finland
36 Florida Institute of Technology United States
=37 Charles Sturt University Australia
=37 University of Gothenburg Sweden
=37 Massey University New Zealand
40 Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (E-JUST) Egypt
41 Arizona State University (Tempe) United States
42 University of Geneva Switzerland
43 McGill University Canada
44 University of Bergen Norway
45 University of Pécs Hungary
46 National Chung Hsing University Taiwan
47 Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) Malaysia
=48 University of Iceland Iceland
=48 University of São Paulo Brazil
50 King’s College London United Kingdom
51 KTH Royal Institute of Technology Sweden
52 Trinity College Dublin Republic of Ireland
53 Cyprus University of Technology Cyprus
54 IPB University Indonesia
=55 Federal University of Espírito Santo Brazil
=55 Northumbria University United Kingdom
57 National Research Nuclear University MEPhI Russian Federation
58 University of Worcester United Kingdom
=59 Carleton University Canada
=59 University of Rovira i Virgili Spain
61 University of Agriculture, Faisalabad Pakistan
=62 Centrale Nantes France
=62 Monterrey Institute of Technology Mexico
64 Tohoku University Japan
65 University of Edinburgh United Kingdom
66 NED University of Engineering and Technology Pakistan
67 University of Florence Italy
68 University of Eastern Finland Finland
=69 American University United States
=69 Oregon State University United States
71 Aix-Marseille University France
72 Hanyang University South Korea
73 University of Petra Jordan
74 Portland State University United States
75 University of Greenwich United Kingdom
76 University of Newcastle Australia
77 Technological University of Pereira Colombia
78 Alexandria University Egypt
=79 Durham University United Kingdom
=79 Newcastle University United Kingdom
81 University of Leeds United Kingdom
82 University Rey Juan Carlos Spain
=83 Bath Spa University United Kingdom
=83 Wilfrid Laurier University Canada
85 Tohoku Gakuin University Japan
86 University of Bordeaux France
87 University of Maryland, Baltimore County United States
=88 Polytechnic University of Turin Italy
=88 University of Waterloo Canada
90 Abdullah Gül University Turkey
91 Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) Brazil
92 University of Jyväskylä Finland
=93 University of Beira Interior Portugal
=93 Benha University Egypt
95 National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) Taiwan
96 Gdańsk University of Technology Poland
=97 Amirkabir University of Technology Iran
=97 IMT Mines Alès France
99 Stony Brook University United States
100 Pontifical Catholic University of Peru Peru

View the full ranking for climate action here

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