We welcome Russell Group's support on the sustainability agenda
10th December 2019
The Russell Group, which represents 24 leading UK universities published a joint statement on Monday 9th December on environmental sustainability, setting out its commitment to tackling climate change through research, teaching and more sustainable practices.
As home to world leading climate research and a quarter of all UK-based graduates, Russell Group universities have a key role to play in finding solutions to global environmental challenges and building a zero-carbon future.
Through its Environmental Sustainability Network, comprising sustainability leads across the 24 institutions, the Russell Group will share best practice, boost efforts to cut waste, increase recycling, and reduce CO2 emissions on campus.
The full statement is below.
Russell Group statement on Environmental Sustainability
Global environmental and ecosystem challenges are urgent and real. Creating a more sustainable future is complex and will require action from all corners of society – but there is no avoiding this problem and there is no time to waste.
Russell Group universities believe that, together, we have a unique role to play in finding the solutions, through our cutting-edge research, as educators, and as institutions and communities in our own right. Though we do not yet have all the answers, we are striving to empower existing and future generations with the knowledge and confidence to protect our planet, as we each work towards reducing our own impact on the world around us.
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 –including ‘zero-carbon’. We recognise that our research and international collaborations incur an inevitable carbon cost, but that this work adds significant value already and could be transformative in the longer-term. We are endeavouring to work with business, government, our students and wider society to turn our breakthroughs and discoveries into real-world solutions, without delay.
As educators responsible for teaching a quarter of all UK-based graduates, we aspire to give every student the opportunity to become environmentally literate, whether through their formal education, including through dedicated modules, extra-curricular courses and MOOCs, or through their wider student experiences and campus life. We provide all our undergraduates and postgraduates with the opportunity to build environmental sustainability into their wider student experience.
We take seriously our need to behave sustainably, as institutions and communities in our own right. This is a priority for every Russell Group university. We have all committed to reducing our carbon emissions and are seeking to improve the energy efficiency of our buildings. Through the Russell Group Environmental Sustainability Network we are learning from each other and boosting efforts to cut waste, increase recycling, promote vegetarian and vegan options on campus and embed sustainability into procurement so that we use our combined spending power effectively.
We don’t claim to be perfect: we know there is more that each of us can do and, as individual institutions and in collaboration with a range of partners, we are seeking to overcome the different hurdles we face. But we are committed to this agenda and we will stay the course. Together, we are striving to help deliver a more sustainable future through our research, teaching and our own behaviour, too.
Reacting to this statement, Iain Patton, CEO at EAUC, said
: “We welcome Russell Group’s support on the sustainability agenda and we are incredibly pleased that they recognise both the importance and urgency of the global sustainability challenges we face.
“We would encourage all Russell Group institutions to make clear public net zero emissions targets, to holistically integrate Education for Sustainable Development into their formal curriculum, to share the huge quantity of research they have on this topic and make firm commitments to operational behaviour change. They have a responsibility as sector leaders, community pillars and trusted learning and teaching establishments to ensure a sustainable tomorrow.
“EAUC, in partnership with Association of Colleges, GuildHE and Universities UK have created the Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education. The Climate Commission will create a clear, cohesive and consistent response to the government’s declared Climate and Environment Emergency. This year-long collaborative exercise will develop a strategic framework and set ambitious targets, including mechanisms to ensure progress, which will be delivered at COP26 in Glasgow. We would urge all Russell Group universities to join the Commission and start to make the tangible change required of institutions dedicated to education and betterment.”