University of Bristol declares ‘climate emergency’

The university took the step in the hope that others in the sector will follow

The University of Bristol has declared a ‘climate emergency’ in a letter signed by 100 of its academics.

It is the first university in the UK to take the step.

Prof Judith Squires, deputy vice-chancellor and provost, said: “Calling a climate emergency highlights the urgency of the task we are engaged in and I hope others join us in increasing their action on this, the biggest challenge we face.”

The university promises to become carbon neutral by 2030 and has, to date, reduced its carbon emissions by 27 per cent.

It attributes this reduction to energy efficiency measures, staff and student engagement programmes, upgrades to its existing estate and new energy-efficient buildings.

By March 2019, the university had reduced the share of its endowment fund investments in the fossil fuel industry to 1.6% of the fund, and is on target for full disinvestment by April 2020. 

Dr Laura Dickinson, from the Department of Civil Engineering, was one of the academics who added her signature to the letter. She said: “Declaring a climate and ecological emergency is the right thing to do.

It sends the clear message that students and staff know that we must take radical action now: first by giving appropriate weight to the severity of the crisis in our teaching, research and the way the university is run; and second by leading other universities in putting pressure on the UK Government to act decisively and urgently.”


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