Climate Commission Higher Education Hub

About the Climate Commission and the Higher Education Hub 

The Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education Students and Leaders is a UK-wide initiative supporting colleges and universities in producing a clear, cohesive and consistent response to the Climate Emergency by the end of 2020. The Climate Commission is a partnership of Association of Colleges, EAUC, GuildHE and Universities UK. We are represented by institutional and student commissioners and supported by council members comprised of vice-chancellors, principals and students. Check out our ongoing work here.
The Commission works collaboratively with UK further and higher education institutions to produce a sector-wide response to the Climate Emergency. The Higher Education Hub acts as a space to more easily find university-specific information and news.

Click here for Higher Education news
Click here for more information on Higher Education representation on the Climate Commission 

Higher Education News 

October 2021

September 2021

  • Climate Commission Commissioners and Steering Group members joined HE-focussed workshop facilitated by the Department for Education to support development of their new strategy (13th September).

August 2021

  • Climate Commission Commissioners and Steering Group met with the Department for Education Sustainability Unit with view to support development of DoE strategy.

June 2021

May 2021 Updates

April 2021 Updates

  • Climate Commissioner Judith Petts joined a keynote discussion panel on Responding to the Climate Emergency at the Chartered Association of Business Schools Professional Managers' Annual Conference.
  • Climate Commissioners have written to the Prime Minister and Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, President for COP26, Rt Hon Michelle Donelan MP, Minister for Universities and Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP, Secretary of State for Education - asking them to work with the Climate Commission on key areas: Green jobs & skills; Measuring & reporting; Raising the profile of the education sector leading up to COP26 and beyond; Curriculum; Research - including concerns on the recent reductions in ODA-related research funding. You can view the letter here.

March 2021 Updates

February 2021 Updates

January 2021 Updates

December 2020 Updates

November 2020 Updates

  • We held the Climate Commission - One Year On event. The event included a Keynote Speech from The Rt. Hon. The Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change, a student panel and breakout rooms to discuss priorities for the next year running up to COP26.
  • The Climate Commission released a support statement for Mock COP26.
  • The Climate Commission hosted a plenary session at the Global Climate 2020 event with UKRI and Department of Education representatives.

October 2020 Updates

September 2020 Updates

  • This thought piece from Professor Joy Carter, CBE, DL, Vice-Chancellor at University of Winchester and Climate Commissioner forms a helpful baseline of the values and responses that run deep in Gen Z and therefore brings great value in understanding – and therefore helping to shape – young people’s opinions.    
  • Professor Joy Carter, Vice-Chancellor at University of Winchester and Climate Commissioner is speaking at the AUDE Future of the University Estate on Mobilising the higher education sector on climate change for the future on 6th October.   
  • The Commission has announced it will launch an HE Climate Action Toolkit, building off the work of its FE Climate Action Roadmap.   
  • The Climate Commission Podcast, Climate Chats with Students released 4 new podcasts chatting students from the University of Edinburgh and Keele University.  
  • The Climate Commission Secretariat has released the 2nd blog post in its series. This post covers priority 2: research and innovation and offers insights from Climate Commissioners Judith Petts and Marta Crispo. Read the post here.  

August 2020 Updates

  • The Commission has released a document outlining its findings to date.
  • The Commission held an online event, "Discussion with Further and Higher Education Governors and Chairs" to understand the opportunities to and challenges of advancing climate action and sustainability at the board level. More information on the event here.  Watch the event recording here

July 2020 Updates

June 2020 Updates  

  • Student Commissioners have been awarded honorary fellowships by EAUC in recognition of their commitment to tackling the climate crisis and their time and contribution to the Climate Commission's work. Read more about the honorary fellowships here.
  • Student Commissioners launched a survey to better engage with students. 
  • Alex Bols - Deputy CEO, Guild HE and Climate Commission Steering Group member has written a blog on what we want the new normal to look at
  • Fiona Goodwin - Direction of Operations & Planning, EAUC and Climate Commission Steering Group member presented at the Universities Scotland International Committee Workshop to provide an update on the work of the Climate Commission. 
  • The Climate Commission Secretariat has written a blog post about the Commission's first priority, "mobilising the higher and further education sector voice" on Wonkhe. The post is one in a series of 5 synthesising and unpacking discussions on the Commission's priorities. 

May 2020 Updates

  • Student Commissioners facilitated focus groups for UNESCO's Futures of Education to ensure students on the Commission can contribute and impact global education policy. Read more about the initiative and final report here.  
  • Nous Group has published a news item on their collaboration with the Climate Commission. 
  • Research Professional has published Commissioner Judith Petts' (Vice-Chancellor of University of Plymouth and UUK representative) piece about how universities' responses to COVID-19 can inform how they tackle the climate crisis, in which she mentions the Climate Commission's work. 
  • Professor James Longhurst spoke as a panelist on the UUKi seminar, "Is it possible to have a green international strategy?" At the event, Professor Longhurst represented the Commission and touched on topics that will be addressed by the Commission. 

April 2020 Updates

  • The Climate Commission drafted a response to the postponement of COP26 due to COVID-19 pandemic, acknowledging the importance of reducing the severity of the outbreak and emphasising its continued commitment to tackling the climate crisis.
  • The 3rd Virtual Evidence Gathering Event took place on April 29th. The event was focused on priority 3: reporting scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions in the FHE sector. Student commissioners included a question in the briefing paper for expert witnesses: "How can GHG reporting be made accessible to students to enable them to support the institution to become more sustainable?"
  • The Climate Commission has organised two further virtual events following the Virtual Evidence Gathering Events. The purpose of the events is to discuss with leaders in the FHE sector on the Commission's findings and progress to ensure its work is relevant and beneficial to the sector. 
  • The Climate Commission was mentioned in a blog post by Lucian J. Hudson (Chair of Earthwatch Europe) published on HEPI
  • Commissioner Professor James Longhurst (Assistant Vice-Chancellor of University of the West of England) has published articles on the Commission and how the FHE sector can tackle the climate crisis. 

March 2020 Updates

  • The Climate Commissioners have been consulting with the Council on a draft statement on offsetting for the sector. The Climate Commission will develop additional guidance for institutions on offsetting taking on the comments from the Council. This will be shared with the Council in due course.
  • Using the statement, the Climate Commission partner organisations (AoC, EAUC, GuildHE & UUK) will now continue this dialogue and consensus building with their memberships.
  • Offsetting Statement: "The Climate Commission believes offsetting should be seen as a last resort for residual emissions where all other possible action has been taken using the principles of the Carbon Management Hierarchy of avoid, reduce, replace and offset. The Climate Commission foresee that offsetting will have a role as the sector moves towards net-zero emissions. The Climate Commission consider that offsetting may be higher in the early stages where institutions have ambitious targets but would expect these to scale down as measures are implemented and institutions move from net zero to zero emissions”

February 2020 Updates

  • The Climate Commissioners had a planning meeting on 11th February. Along with the Institutional Commissioners we welcomed the Student Commissioners to the group. Each partner organisation as a Student Commissioner as well as an Institutional Commissioner. This is to ensure that the student voice is at the heart of the Climate Commission.
  • Our HE Student Commissioners are: Manveer Gill, Undergraduate, University of Warwick & EAUC representative; Florence Barrett, Undergraduate, Plymouth Marjon University, GuildHE representative; and Marta Crispo, PhD Researcher, Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, University of Sheffield, UUK representative.
  • Manveer says, “The Climate Commission has the potential to spark a collaborative sector-wide response to the climate emergency. By including students at every step, the Commission can create a strategy that unites all major stakeholders in our efforts to mitigate climate change.” 
  • The Commissioners discussed the 5 priorities in further detail in preparation for the virtual evidence gathering events. As a reminder please book onto the events here.

January 2020 Updates

  • Iain Patton and Chris Hale, Climate Commission Steering Group, presented to Universities UK staff to ensure they are all familiar with the work of the Climate Commission.
  • EAUC Trustee, Eunice Simmons, was a keynote speaker at Advance HE conference and highlighted the work of the Climate Commission.
  • EAUC Trustee and Climate Commissioner, Jim Longhurst was a keynote speaker at Advance HE’s STEM  conference in Manchester on 20th January 2020 and highlighted the work of the Climate Commission.
  • Student Commissioners have been appointed to work alongside the institutional Commissioners. This reflects equality within the Climate Commission and the determination to listen to students and ensure we have clear and cohesive actions.  
  • We are delighted to announce more institutions have now joined the Climate Commission Council – we have 85 in total with 61 institutional leaders and 24 students making up the Council.
  • We have provided free Carbon Literacy training to students from the Council. They are now empowered and equipped to influence their fellow students as well as senior management within their institution.
  • We have agreed the vision and mission as well as a Target Statement for the Climate Commission so we have a clear way ahead.
  • We have listed the top priorities for the Climate Commission
  • We will have 5 virtual evidence gathering events over the coming 6 months for the sector to input into. Please book your place now.
  • Progress continues on our Scope 3 work and you can find out more about this here. We will soon be launching: a sector wide programme for Carbon Literacy training; and a travel tool to assist with conscious travel decisions.
  • Climate Commissioners Judith Petts and Manveer Gill attended the recent launch of the UN Climate Change Summit (COP26) that the UK are hosting in Glasgow in November.

Who is representing the Higher Education sector? 

Commissioners will provide direction and leadership to the Commission’s work, act as the visible face of the Commission and play a role in building engagement and consensus within the sectors involved. The Commissioners will work with a wider Council that will advise and support their work.
The Council will be made up of Students and Vice Chancellors or Principals from institutions that have agreed to be part of and contribute to the Commission. We seek to ensure this groups reflects sector diversity.  As well as being supported by the Council, the Commissioners will seek advice from Expert Witnesses, Sustainability Professionals and Observers to inform their activities.

The Higher Education sector is represented across these groups. 

Climate Commissioners

  • Professor James Longhurst, Assistant Vice Chancellor, University of the West of England & EAUC Trustee
  • Professor Joy Carter CBE DL, Vice Chancellor, University of Winchester & GuildHE representative
  • Professor Judith Petts CBE, Vice Chancellor, University of Plymouth & UUK representative
  • Manveer Gill, Undergraduate, University of Warwick & EAUC representative
  • Florence Barrett, Undergraduate, Plymouth Marjon University, GuildHE representative
  • Marta Crispo, PhD Researcher, Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, University of Sheffield, UUK representative 

Steering Group 
  • Alex Bols, Deputy Chief Executive, GuildHE
  • Christopher Hale, Director of Policy, Universities UK 
Delivered by EAUC