Climate Action Annual Report 2024: pioneering change and overcoming challenges together

Posted in: Climate Action Team

It’s that time of year again, and we’re excited to share the latest updates from our Climate Annual Report with you. While we’ve made some great progress, we’re not immune to challenges. But we’re confident that, as a collective, we can tackle them head-on and make a positive impact on our community and planet. After all, you are the pioneers of today. So, let’s break down this report and see how we can inspire each other to join the climate movement!

Here are some of the top things from the report all students should know:

Evolution in the curriculum

Education is the cornerstone of our Climate Action Framework, empowering both students and staff. Our recent survey revealed that nearly half of our students, 49% to be precise, have been exposed to climate or sustainability education through their courses. This underscores the University's commitment to transform our curriculum across all faculties, ensuring it remains relevant to the current climate landscape. We are proud to share some significant achievements in this area:

  • we held the largest Climate Fresk (an interactive climate change workshop) in the UK, where 400 Faculty of Engineering & Design students took part
  • we've introduced a new MSc Decarbonisation course – currently recruiting for 2024-25
  • we scored 100% in Education in the People and Planet League Table!

Read more about these innovative learning and teaching development projects on pages 12-18 of the report.

Students are driving positive change

Education equips students with the knowledge, skills, and values that are necessary to make a positive impact in their careers, communities and beyond. By pursuing their passions and leveraging their education, students have the power to drive change and bring innovative solutions. Here are a couple of inspiring examples of how students and graduates have used their education to create positive change:

  • you may have met our Climate Champion team (pictured above) who this year got involved with a range of projects on campus to work with other students to encourage sustainable actions
  • Lauren Eatwell (2007 graduate Meng Mechanical Engineering with German) the Head of Engineering at BAR Technologies, is helping design new ways to decarbonise the maritime sector; and has also been recognised in TIME’s 100 Most Influential Climate Leaders in Business 2023.
  • Beatrice Clementel (MSc International Development, Social Justice and Sustainability) worked with the Climate Action Team on her practicum project, gaining professional experience, which involved creating a student guide to living sustainably on a budget.
  • our student volunteering group V-Team have carried out a number of projects this year: Eco-together workshops, regular litter picks, hosting several repair cafes and more! Visit pages 15 and 16 to read more on the achievements of students and graduates.

Read more about the inspiring students and graduates leading change on pages 15-17 of the report.

Impact through Research

Sustainability is a key research priority at University of Bath, and our academics have made encouraging progress:

  • several multimillion-pound research projects were launched last year to tackle climate change in various focus areas, including construction, transport, energy and food production – read about impactful new projects launched in the past year on page 19 of the report.
  • considering the sustainability of how we conduct our research is important too, including in labs and there are now 114 labs across 10 departments signed up to LEAF, our lab sustainability programme and 38 of those have achieved Bronze accreditation – read more on page 20 of the report.

Our footprint

Universities have a unique role to play in addressing the climate emergency, through our education and research, but also recognising our responsibility to reduce our own emissions. We don’t want to shy away from challenges, one of them being that our footprint has increased by 24%, compared to last year, because of a mixture of factors that are both within and beyond our control. However, we are tackling this through actions, policies, and programmes to help reduce our carbon footprint:

  • our new Thermal Comfort Policy has the potential to save up to 15% of our annual gas consumption, reducing emissions by up to 1,700 tonnes of CO2e annually – read more in the case study on page 28 of the report.
  • we carry out behaviour change programmes, such as LEAF in labs, to support staff and students in making low carbon choices, and recently ran an active travel campaign to encourage staff and students to opt for low-carbon commuting options – discover more actions we're taking to reduce our carbon footprint on page 27 of the report.
  • with just a small adjustment to our menu, we can make a big impact on our environment; this year, we spent 90% less on beef and lamb in catering and The Market outlet, and we also opened Parade as a vegan café in September 2023 – read more in the case study on page 30 of the report.

We acknowledge that we still face challenges in this area, but our work is still ongoing, and we are increasingly looking to use our data to shape these efforts. The initiatives listed above will help to drive down our footprint.

Joining forces for a better future

The power of influence through partnerships is crucial in the fight against the climate crisis. The University fosters and develops meaningful collaborations to help address the climate in several areas from the higher education sector, internationally and locally:

  • University of Bath was part of the official United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) delegation at COP28 in Dubai.
  • the ActNowFilm project is a film series which aims to amplify youth voices in the urgent climate debates, produced by our Institute for Policy Research and Cambridge Zero. The latest film, ActNowFilm: Young People in Conversation with Climate Experts, was shown at COP28 for the Youth, Children, Education and Skills Day.
  • we joined the Climate Ambassadors initiative, which connects climate leaders with schools and colleges to help them tackle climate change. Launched in Bath in 2023, the initiative accepts volunteers from all disciplines and roles here in our community.

Our Climate Annual Report celebrates our efforts in areas in which we make encouraging progress. Our commitment to evolving our curriculum, empowering our students, and driving impactful research has yielded positive results. However, we acknowledge that challenges remain, such as reducing our own emissions. We are determined to confront these challenges and continue to implement initiatives to ensure a better future here at the University and for our planet.

Posted in: Climate Action Team

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