The Environmental Sustainability Action Group

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A photograph of the Earth from space.

Urgently responding to climate issues

The Environmental Sustainability Action Group (ESAG) (formerly the Climate and Ecological Emergency Advisory Group (CEEAG)) was formed in 2020, with the remit of deciding whether the University should declare a climate and ecological emergency, and if so, how to respond to it. In December 2020, we made our declaration of a climate and ecological emergency, and now we are working to deliver our most ambitious Sustainability Sub-Strategy and Climate Action Plan to date, which was launched in 2021.

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, Academic Faculty, Sustainability, Estates and Campus Services, Finance, and Trade Unions. There has also been support from an external consultancy for technical expertise on carbon management. The Group is chaired by Chris Oldham, Deputy Registrar (Infrastructure and Environments).

Environmental Sustainability Action Group

Global Context

There is clear scientific evidence that anthropogenic climate change is now a reality. The global temperature has already increased by at least +1.1oC since pre-industrial levels, when carbon in the atmosphere was at 280 ppm (parts per million).

Today, carbon concentrations are 422 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 Environmental Sustainability Action Group has led 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 delivered its first recommendations to USG on 27 October 2020, and to Council on 30 November. On 9 December 2020, we made our declaration of a climate and ecological emergency official. This puts sustainability at the top of the agenda, ensuring we are all taking responsibility for our environmental and social impacts.

ESAG Members

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Sustainability team