Climate Emergency Group

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Urgently responding to climate issues

The Climate Emergency Group was formed in 2020, with the remit of deciding whether the University should declare a climate emergency, and if so, how to respond to it. 

Membership is from across the University, with the intention of being representative of the community; this includes individuals from the Students’ Union, People and Culture, Research, Education, Sustainability, Estates and Campus Services, Finance and Trades Unions. There is also support from an external consultancy for technical expertise on carbon management. The Group is chaired by Monica Illsley, Chief of Staff.

Climate Emergency Group

Global Context

There is clear scientific evidence that anthropogenic climate change is now a reality. The global temperature has already increased by +1oC since pre-industrial levels, when carbon in the atmosphere was at 280 ppm (parts per million).

Today, carbon concentrations are 413 ppm, and rising at approximately +2ppm per year. It is widely accepted that a safe operating space for humanity is 350 ppm (the levels passed in 1990). International policies (particularly the 2016 Paris Agreement) are seeking to limit increases in global temperature by a further +0.5 to +1.0oC.

Our Approach

It is vital that the University plays a leading role in delivering net zero emissions. This is not a threat, but an opportunity to deliver excellence in education and research in novel and effective ways.

The Climate Emergency Group will lead the work of creating, recommending to USG and Council for approval, and ensuring delivery of, the University’s most ambitious Sustainability Sub-Strategy (SSS) to date. Membership includes a diverse spread of the University community that represent all aspects of the University’s activity. 

The Group will be delivering its first recommendations to USG on 27 October 2020, and these will then be communicated to Council on 30 November.

CEG Members

Sustainability/Environmental Specialists

Professor Jules Pretty


School of Life Sciences, University of Essex

Mike Kenny

Senior Consultant

Department/Centre, LCMB

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Sustainability Team