Keele University has joined the Government and other institutions to become one of the first UK universities to declare a ‘climate emergency’, reaffirming its position and commitment to being a world-leader in sustainability.

The University has announced an ambitious climate emergency target to be carbon neutral by 2030.

On the day that the University welcomes Sir David Attenborough to formally name the new state-of-the-art teaching and research laboratories in Life Sciences, Keele is calling for urgent action to be taken on climate change. The announcement follows Parliament’s environment and climate emergency declaration yesterday and is in line with the major renewable and low carbon projects happening on campus.

The University has transformed its campus into a unique ‘living laboratory’ replicating a small town, to drive the clean energy transition required to achieve the UK’s ambitious climate change commitments. Landmark projects include HyDeploy, the first practical experiment in the UK involving blending hydrogen with natural gas, and the largest single, integrated electricity and heat Smart Energy Network Demonstrator (SEND) in Europe. Combined with an integrated renewable energy programme, the SEND Network and Hydeploy will dramatically reduce carbon emissions from the campus itself and support innovative research into low carbon energy, and provide the basis for very substantial reductions in carbon emissions globally.

Keele University launched its new Institute for Sustainable Futures last year to drive research into issues such as climate change, food security and clean energy on a local, national and global scale. As well as research, the Institute supports sustainability-focused undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes, in Environment and Sustainability and Environmental Sustainability and Green Technology. Keele was also named as one of the Top 30 universities in Europe for its social and economic impact in the 2019 Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings, which recognises universities across the world for their social and economic impact, based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, and was ranked number 1 in the 2018 UI Green Metrics World University rankings for its green setting and campus infrastructure, and has been in the Top 30 globally for the last three years

The University recently announced its commitment to divest from fossil fuels and focus its investments in companies with a positive environmental and/or societal impact, in particular in areas of low carbon energy and technology. Professor Chris Fogwill, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures, states: “By disinvesting in fossil fuels Keele University has made an unparalleled commitment to decarbonisation. Combined with innovative research projects such as SEND and HyDeploy, we are playing a crucial role in the UK’s low carbon future.”

Commenting on the climate emergency, Professor Mark Ormerod, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost, and institutional lead for sustainability, said: “Keele University has had a strong institutional level commitment to sustainability for over a decade across all aspects of its operations, education, research, its campus and community, and external engagement, and is recognised as a sector leader for its whole-institution approach to sustainability, embedding sustainability in everything we do. Declaring a climate emergency reaffirms our position and commitment to being a world-leader in sustainability.

“SEND and HyDeploy are landmark projects using our campus as a genuine living laboratory which will enable huge reductions in carbon emissions globally, whilst embedding sustainability in all our programmes and in all aspects of our operations means all our students graduate with a strong sustainability lens.”