The role of HE in tackling climate change

Posted on August 3, 2009


This week sees the launch of a new Consultation on a carbon reduction target and strategy for higher education in England, a joint initiative by HEFCE, Universities UK and GuildHE.

The aim of the strategy is to make use of the HE sector in the UK to tackle climate change in a number of ways:

Firstly, by recognising that the large (some would say too large) targets set by the Government in recent years for HE participation have meant that an unprecedented number of people will be exposed to Higher Education and, because of this, universities can be a real and effective means of mass, positive behaviour change on an increasingly large and relatively influential cohort of people.

Secondly, it recognises the role that HE should play in innovation.  This is an obvious link and it’s long been a subject of office debate as to whether the UK should be looking to create at least one university centre of excellence with regards to innovation in green technologies.  My vote is that it should.

But importantly, it also recognises the sheer buying power of universities and the size of their estates.  I have often been reminded that the NUS has a collective buying power second only to the armed forces in the UK and ensuring that this, amongst others, is well directed seems to be an eminently good use of time and effort.

That this strategy is available for consultation is a great step and seems like a great opportunity to successfully impact society from policy to action to education.