Net zero coalition unites Scottish universities in climate fight

Published: 23 January 2024

A landmark initiative has been launched to bring together Scottish universities to address the climate emergency.

A landmark initiative has been launched to bring together Scottish universities to address the climate emergency.  
Scotland Beyond Net Zero (SBNZ), founded jointly by the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, aims to help the country meet – and go beyond – its ambition of achieving net zero by 2045.  
The collaboration will catalyse action and empower government, policymakers, organisations and industry to make informed change to help Scotland reach its climate targets. 
The new venture will combine world-changing research, innovation and expertise in climate science and sustainability. It will address key challenges linked with the climate emergency, including clean energy, storage, decarbonisation, green transport, community empowerment and climate justice.  

A picture of a figure on a hillside overlooking wind turbines
While initially launched by the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, it will bring together world-class expertise from institutions across Scotland. 
The initiative will be launched at an event hosted by Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Just Transition Màiri McAllan MSP on Tuesday 23 January at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh.  
Guests from academia, business, government and public life in Scotland will join the universities to celebrate the launch and have the opportunity to meet some researchers leading cutting-edge research to address the climate emergency.  
Projects showcased include the Energy at Edinburgh initiative, which is working with partners to deliver affordable, secure and sustainable energy for all, and GALLANT, which is using Glasgow as a living lab to trial new sustainable solutions throughout the city.  
Building on the legacy of the UN’s 26th Climate Change Conference (COP26), which was held in Glasgow in 2021, the new initiative seeks to provide policymakers and government with cutting-edge data, insights and expertise will enable evidence-based policy recommendations.  
The venture will also facilitate collaborations for industry partners to unlock innovations that bring benefits to people and the planet.   
By supporting and connecting existing networks and initiatives, and stimulating new activities and endeavours, SBNZ aims to become a leading global example of partnerships to effect positive action on climate change.  
Professor Sir Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, said: “Climate change is arguably the greatest global challenge of our time. We need coordinated action to harness our combined strengths. To support Scotland’s transition to net zero, it is vital that we go further and faster together. That’s what SBNZ aims to do.” 
Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow, said: “The climate emergency demands that all of us - academia, business, government and third sector organisations - step up our efforts to work more closely together. Scotland has immense potential to innovate to solve the stubborn challenges associated with achieving a fair and just transition to net zero, and in launching this coalition today we hope to encourage partners across the nation to join us and get involved with SBNZ.”
Welcoming the initiative, the First Minister Humza Yousaf said: “Scotland’s universities have a vital role to play in our transition to Net Zero, not only through their world-class research, but in providing the education and evidence we need to make informed decisions about our future. We have a clear pathway to deliver on global climate change commitments for Scotland and there are enormous opportunities to innovate and bring together expertise across academia, industry and the third sector. 
“I commend the leadership shown by the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow in launching this initiative and I welcome the collaborative approach taken by the universities and partners across the country who will shape the development of Scotland Beyond Net Zero in the months ahead.” 

First published: 23 January 2024

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