Our response to the climate emergency

Director of our Centre for Sustainable Solutions Professor Jaime Toney reflects on the University’s response to the climate emergency and calls for more collaboration.

As member and now co-chair of the Sustainability Working Group, it has been exciting to see the University’s response to the climate emergency take shape in the strategy and action plan, Glasgow Green.

From the early days of declaring the climate emergency, to setting the huge ambition of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, these initiatives have shown that progressing to action is no easy feat. However, Glasgow Green synthesizes voices from the campus community garnered through a variety of digital engagements and face-to-face hackathon-style workshops and this momentum drives us forward.

The memory that resonates with me the most was sitting around a table with our inspiring students - who identify as the Green New Deal - senior academics, professional service staff and our chief operating officer to discuss and debate our priorities for Glasgow Green.

Engaging people who do not ordinarily come together on issues around climate change and sustainability has been a key focus for the Centre for Sustainable Solutions. Established in April 2020, the Centre has been continuing to connect like-minded students and staff across the University with an aim to enable individuals, organisations and communities to act toward a sustainable future through research, education and partnership.

The Centre, together with Policy Scotland, has forged a strong partnership with Glasgow City Council to convene researchers, practitioners, and policymakers in a series of discussion events. The ‘Green Recovery Dialogues’ aim to collectively identify areas for action that safeguard and value social and ecological health.

The Centre has enabled our Green New Deal students in the first successful run of a novel, student-led course in January 2021 – it brings together academic expertise across disciplines to teach students across all Colleges and year groups about the climate crisis in a holistic way.

We are launching our Climate Change and Carbon Literacy upskilling micro-credential course at the end of April 2021 with 180 learners from diverse backgrounds. We are keen for learners to understand their sphere of influence and how to use it to enact positive, sustainable change.

Associate Director of the Centre for Sustainable Solutions, Dr Mia Perry, is co-leading the newly formed Sustainability in Learning and Teaching Community, bringing together colleagues from across Colleges and University Services to look at new ways to embed sustainability into the curriculum across the campus.

The Centre is looking to bring more people and partners together around climate change and sustainability. We work at all levels from small forums to hosting debates and larger dialogues on today’s most pressing issues with diverse stakeholders or “change makers”. Our dialogues are solution-driven to identify urgent actions and find resources and influencers to make change happen. We are looking to expand our existing and emerging work at the city level with Sustainable Glasgow, Chamber of Commerce, and Community Groups, as well as national and international partnerships through COP26 UK Universities, CIVIS, EAUC, Universitas 21, C40 Cities, to name a few.

We are keen to collaborate with other universities and national bodies in raising awareness of the climate emergency, supporting initiatives in line with our mission, and ensuring that offsetting is taken forward in a responsible, impactful way.

If you are interested in working with the Centre or learning more, please get in touch: sustainable-solutions@glasgow.ac.uk.