I wrote last month that the University of Bath has agreed eleven Climate Action Framework principles through discussions with staff, campus trade unions and the students’ union [SU], and that these principles will guide how the University conducts business and inform the development of its next steps to meet the objectives the University has set. In declaring a climate emergency at the same time, the University says that it and the SU are jointly demonstrating their commitment to responding to climate change. The Vice-Chancellor said:
“We recognise the clear scientific evidence and the need for urgent action across society to tackle dangerous, anthropogenic climate change and its impact on both humanity and biodiversity. By adopting eleven Climate Action Framework Principles we are backing up the declaration with commitments to action.”
I'm going to be looking at all this in some detail in the coming weeks, but here are a few thoughts to be going on with:
– it's all very carbon specific; this follows from its having a climate focus of course
– as a result (and notwithstanding the VC's comments) there is no focus on net biodiversity gain – given that even new housing developments have to do this, why not a university? Why not biodiversity gain targets for the campus?
– further, environmental issues more generally are not given weight and some argue that the ecological challenge is more of an immediate problem than climate
– and where are the SDGs? The most significant sustainability development of the last 5 years doesn't even warrant a mention; again, because of the narrow climate focus
– where’s the sustainable procurement strategy for materials / food / etc?
– what about climate justice? UBC, for example, puts this centre stage in its wide-ranging declaration
– the notion of divestment is also lacking
– partnership with the City of Bath seems limited. I'm told by those who know much more than me about these matters that it's the Leeds (city, institutions and universities) that has the most comprehensive and imaginative approach in the UK.
Of course, Bath might might say that these are only principles – a precursor to actions TBD – that's why there are no objectives or performance indicators.
More later on all this.