The 24 Russell Group universities have made a commitment to tackle climate change through research, teaching and more sustainable practices.
The Russell Group universities, which includes the University of Oxford and Cambridge, have all signed an open letter which commits to reducing their environmental impacts by doing more to recycle and reduce plastic, introducing vegetarian and vegan food options, saving energy and water and encouraging green travel.
They will also work to reduce their carbon emissions, by improving building efficiency and creating sustainable supply-chain management.
Many of the universities have said that even if students aren’t on a course directly linked to climate or the environment they will offer specific modules on sustainability which will be open to all students.
The universities have also all joined an Environmental Sustainability Network which will allow them to work together to have a greater collective impact.
In the statement, the Russell Group has acknowledged that the universities will face challenges in becoming completely environmentally friendly, such as with business air travel, but they hope that the new sustainability network will allow the universities to have a platform to share the best practices and to find new ways to overcome any challenges.
However, despite over 7,000 Universities worldwide declaring a climate emergency, only 5 of the 24 Russell Group Universities have done so, which could suggest some limitations in their commitment towards climate action.
Joanna Burton, policy manager at the Russell Group said: ‘We believe that our research capacity can and must be put towards developing the technologies and understanding the behaviours needed to deliver a sustainable future.
‘We aspire to give every student the opportunity to become environmentally literate, whether this is through their formal education, extra-curricular courses or through their wider student experiences and campus life.
‘As large, research-intensive and highly international universities, we have to acknowledge that our research and education activities generate an inevitable impact on the environment.
‘However, we should not be afraid to say that the work our universities undertake also adds significant value to society and the environment.
‘Indeed, it has the potential to be transformative in the long-term.’
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