Green Week is our annual celebration of the environment, and a time when we work with partners in the region to promote some of the great activities that are happening to help us all to be more sustainable, in our day-to-day lives. It’s also an opportunity for us to focus on the future courses of action that we need to take as individuals, as communities, and as organisations. Indeed in the period since we declared our Climate Emergency we’ve seen the emergence of a number of important initiatives which include de-carbonising our electricity usage and increasing re-use and recycling through initiatives within Campus and Commercial Services.
There is a huge range of activities to take part in over the course of Green Week – from ‘swap shops’ where you can exchange clothes for new ones, to a Green Fair at the end of the week. There really is something for everyone, so make sure to get involved and book onto events happening across our campus this week.
With all this activity on campus around all things sustainable, there couldn’t be a better time to start talking with you about some changes to our travel policy and to our investment policy. Both of these changes have been encouraged by the Climate Emergency Task Force which met for the first time in January. Its role is to provide advice and facilitate better co-ordination of the University’s actions to address a climate emergency, and business travel was one of the first things it considered. Whilst we are still working out specific details, I’d like to give you a feel for what’s coming up.
Upcoming changes to our Travel Policy
We are moving to a situation in which the normal expectation would be that train is used for journeys that are within Great Britain or are around six hours. This would encompass destinations such as Paris and Brussels, as well as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.
We also plan to introduce our own internal offset mechanism for flights. To enable us to do this quickly, we will be introducing a simple system. There will be two levels – one for flights within Europe and one for flights beyond. An internal charging mechanism will be put in place and the funds collected will be used to support on-campus initiatives to reduce our carbon footprint. The aim would be to implement this at the start of May (the beginning of Q3 of the financial year), but in terms of train travel, the new arrangements can start straight away for new bookings. You’ll be hearing more about this soon.
Upcoming improvements to Socially Responsible Investment
We are looking to move to a more proactive approach to the management of our investments so we more actively target our investments in the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) arena where companies are seeking to have a more positive impact on the environment, and where there is a commitment to more socially responsible practices. The Investment Sub Committee keeps the University’s Socially Responsible Investment policy under review, and is in the process of finalising the new approach and agreeing the details.
This all represents a good start to fulfilling our Climate Emergency Pledge, but there is a great deal more to do. I greatly look forward to working with our community to fulfil our responsibilities to help combat climate change through our individual actions, our research and teaching, and how we run and develop our university.