Stepping up climate action at the the University

Published: 9 September 2021

Prof Jaime Toney outlines how the Centre for Sustainable Solutions is coordinating action across our campuses

It’s an exciting and daunting time to be a climate scientist in Glasgow. With the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) sixth Physical Science Basis report in August 2021, we have learned that humans have already caused Earth’s surface to warm by 1.07°C. The combination of how much and how quickly the planet is warming is greater than anything that we have experienced in at least the last 2,000 years. These human-induced changes are already having measurable effects on extreme weather and climate events such as heatwaves, rainfall, droughts, and tropical cyclones.

These impacts show that using language like emergency and crisis to describe the current climate situation is appropriate, but there is a ray of hope that acting now can prevent rising global temperatures from breaching the dangerous level of 1.5°C. The mobilisation of individuals, communities, local and national governments, and a wide range of organisations around COP26 in Glasgow has created opportunities for the UofG to accelerate the pace at which we are creating positive change around climate challenges.

As the Director of the Centre for Sustainable Solutions, I have been involved in the co-creation of Glasgow Green: the UofG’s Response to the Climate Emergency with senior leaders, students, professional service staff and academic staff across our campuses. It is clear and heartening that our entire community is engaged with this agenda. The Centre is making new connections every day and we are keen to enable everyone at the UofG to act toward a sustainable and just future. The Centre is focusing its climate action in three key domains: education, research and partnership.


Do you think that we should be embedding sustainability across our courses and our disciplines? Find out more and join our community of 70+ university services staff, academic staff and students who are sharing practice and creating new initiatives by clicking here. Did you know that we are reaching out to new demographics of life-long learners nationally and internationally to upskill on issues related to climate and carbon literacy and shifting our mindsets to prepare for a sustainable future through systems thinking? If you have ideas for additional initiatives or want to contribute to any of these, please get in touch.


Researchers in all of our Colleges are contributing to solving the climate emergency in their own unique ways. Some of the spotlights we have picked out over the past year include: ethical consumption of clothing and food, making historical tenement flats environmentally sustainable, enhancing solar energy efficiency through reflectors located in outer-space, understanding seabirds’ mobility given climate change, and the use of micro-performance to explore the interrelations among people and water. For new monthly spotlights or to access our archive check out the Centre’s website.

No individual, organisation or governmental body is going to achieve net zero on their own. Action at all levels across mitigation and adaptation strategies is important and I am delighted that the UofG has a strong partnership with Glasgow City Council and the City Region through Sustainable Glasgow and Clyde Mission. The city is progressive in its actions and its outlook for a sustainable and just future. In 2020 we partnered to deliver a series of Green Recovery Dialogues, bringing together practitioners, researchers and policymakers to identify sustainable solutions as we recover from the global pandemic. We shared new insights with senior leaders across the city and are involved in the early phases of exciting new partnerships moving forward. For instance, we are working with the city and C40 Cities to pilot the Thriving Cities Initiative, taking a close look at consumption practices and policies and using doughnut economic principles to create a pathway for sustainable social practices that are founded on using our ecological resources on a 1.5°C planet.

This year is a key opportunity for us build on the clear interest and engagement in finding solutions to climate challenges, and drive action both within the University and the world around us. In addition to the actions suggested here, you can follow the work of the Centre, as well as the network of staff and students via @UofGSustain on social media.

Please also subscribe to the UofG Sustainability Network mailing list to keep up to date with the latest news, events and opportunities across our campuses.

Prof Jaime Toney

Director, Centre for Sustainable Solutions

First published: 9 September 2021