Action group University Rebellion called attention to the climate crisis at all Dutch universities on Thursday 19 Novmber. A number of protesters gathered in front of the UG Academy Building, too. The group wants universities to strive for sustainability and to instrumentalize scientific knowledge in the fight against climate change. The group has written a manifesto to this aim. The President of the Board of the University, Jouke de Vries, accepted the manifesto on behalf of the University and provided a first reaction.
‘Thank you for your manifesto. The UG will take good care of it. Climate change is a realistic threat and an enormous challenge to humankind. We share your conviction that immediate action is necessary in order to halt global warming. Science and teaching are indispensable to this goal. We are aware that we still have a long way to go. We would like to invite you for a meeting in the near future, so that we can discuss your ideas to increase the sustainability of the University.’ University Rebellion has accepted the invitation.
At the UG, environmental psychologists are currently researching the psychological aspects of climate change and climate policy, for example. Professor Linda Steg even contributed to writing the latest IPCC report. Climatologists at the UG, such as Richard Bintanja, are conducting research into climate change in the atmosphere. We have ecologists who are reporting on the actual consequences of climate change in the polar region from the Arctic Centre. We are conducting research into sustainable entrepreneurship at Centre for Sustainable Entrepreneurship, into the energy transition at the Energy Academy and into climate adaptation at the Global Centre on Adaptation. In doing so, we are bringing together different scientific disciplines. In short, climate science has a solid basis here.
And teaching is certainly not excluded from this topic. At Campus Fryslân, we are educating young people to become climate and environmentally-conscious citizens of the world, who will bring about actual change. At the Energy Academy, new knowledge about the energy transition is being shared and students of biology and marine ecology are being taught about the consequences of climate change on life around us.
Concerning entrepreneurship: the Green Office at the UG has set goals to further increase the University’s sustainability in the Roadmap 2015-2020. We are striving towards a CO2-neutral University in the short term. That is why, for example, we have recently introduced a stricter policy for work-related travel, which encourages staff members to consider the necessity of their travel as well as to go by train when travelling less than 500 kilometres.
We are also committed to more sustainability in entrepreneurship, renovation and new building projects. The Energy Academy was already the most sustainable teaching building in the Netherlands (BREEAM label ‘Outstanding’), and the new Feringa Building is also being built sustainably (label ‘Very good’).
As for our purchase of energy: this has also recently been made sustainable and CO2-neutral. More than 17 percent of our energy is generated by ourselves via solar panels, cogeneration and a wind mill. As from 2021, our waste will be further divided into the following waste streams: plastic, paper, organic waste and coffee cups, through which everything will be recycled. There is no such thing as waste!
Currently, the UG ranks eighth in the UI GreenMetric 2019, the worldwide ranking for sustainable universities. This makes us the third most sustainable university in the Netherlands.
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