This June, the University of Birmingham declared a climate emergency, and pledged their commitment to taking meaningful action.

‘We recognise that the world is in a climate emergency; scientists, including those here at Birmingham, continue to warn that unless more is done, there will be catastrophic results for our world. We are committed to using our education, our research, our facilities and our campus to make a difference,’ the statement reads in part.

Under their 2039 Strategic Framework, UoB aims to achieve net-zero carbon, on and off-campus, by 2035 for scopes one and two, and no later than 2045 for scope three.

Research at the institution is exploring cleaner energy and transport; improving policy; generating better, more sustainable technologies; and improving air quality. They are also launching a new degree programme, Global Environmental Change and Sustainability.

‘By declaring a climate emergency, we recognise that we need to do more and do it more quickly if we truly are going to help the world reduce the impacts of climate crisis.’

Long overdue

The Guild of Students issued their own statement in response to UoB’s climate emergency declaration.

Despite the fact they ‘welcome’ the news, they made it clear that this is ‘a long overdue milestone in the University’s contribution towards the transition to a zero-carbon society.’

The Guild declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency in February 2020, under the leadership of former president Joshua Williams.

‘We also recognise that this formal declaration is just that, a symbolic declaration and by itself does not address the climate emergency. We welcome the University’s commitment to meaningful action and recognition that as a civic institution it bears a responsibility to the communities it supports to take that action,’ they said, ‘The University is right to accept that it needs to do more and more quickly if it is to make a positive contribution to reducing the impact of the climate crisis.’

According to their statement, fossil fuel investment now only compromises 0.15% of UoB’s investment portfolio, which is something the Guild want UoB to reduce, arguing that it is not ‘morally defensible for the University to continue to invest in companies profiting from fossil fuel extraction, given the scale of environmental damage these companies cause.’

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