Newcastle University has signalled its commitment to climate change action by joining a number of organisations in the UK and all over the world to declare a climate emergency.

Following Newcastle University’s Environment and Sustainability Committee meeting on 10 April, the University has committed to further substantial progress in the de-carbonisation of its activities with the aim of achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2040.

Professor Julie Sanders, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Newcastle University, said: “As a University committed to social justice and to helping students become critical global citizens, it is vitally important that Newcastle University formally recognises the climate emergency.  We need to make a contribution to deep and lasting change through our research and our teaching but also through our daily working practices as an organisation. We will play our part in Newcastle City Council’s Climate Change Convention and work together with staff, students and partners to push further and faster on environmental sustainability. This will take every ounce of our imagination and effort to do thoughtfully and well but it is one of the most significant ways to put our aspirational values of excellence, creativity and impact into action.

“Last year, we became one of the first universities to officially sign the Government’s Emissions Reduction Pledge committing to a 30% reduction in Scope 1 and Scope 2 carbon dioxide emissions from a 2009/10 baseline by 2020/21. Scope 1 emissions refers to direct emissions of greenhouse gases from sources that the University owns or controls, e.g. owned vehicles and combustion plant. Scope 2 emissions are indirect emissions from the generation of purchased energy.

“In 2016 we also agreed as an institution to divest from fossil fuels within five years and we are on track to achieve this. As a proportion of total holdings, Newcastle University’s investment in the oil and gas sector has reduced from 8.8% in September 2017 to 4.4% in October 2018. We are increasing the proportion of funds we hold with managers who do not invest in fossil fuel companies and we have transferred investments to three ethically screened alternative asset funds which exclude fossil fuel companies. All of this work is strongly supported and advised on by our students. It is vitally important as a Higher Education institution that we listen to young people all around the world who are calling for action.”

Commitment to sustainable development

This climate emergency statement follows on from a recent World Ranking published by The Times Higher Education, which has ranked Newcastle University 23rd in the world for its commitment to sustainable development. This inaugural ‘Impact and Innovation’ Award has recognised 500 global universities for their efforts around climate change action and sustainable consumption.

Professor Chris Day, Vice-Chancellor and President, Newcastle University, said: “While pleasing to receive this acknowledgement of our progress in this area there is always more that we can do.

“Our staff and students are doing great work to drive forward this agenda right across the organisation and linking with partners in the City and region to make progress in de-carbonising our activities.”

Newcastle University’s statement on the further actions it intends to take to respond to the most pressing of issues – climate change