A Climate and Sustainability Strategy (CaSS) – proposal

Below you can read the executive summary of a proposal for a Climate and Sustainability Strategy for the University of Sheffield. The proposal was developed by Grantham Research Fellow Dr Christian Unger. You can download the full document at the bottom of this page.

An ambitious vision

“The University of Sheffield is a research-intensive University, committed to changing the world for the better through the power and application of ideas and knowledge.”
A Values-led University with Global Purpose, University strategy – Our plan, page 11

Our goal is to become a Carbon Neutral University Campus, and to lead the way in creating innovative ways to protect our environment. This, in itself, will create a new set of opportunities for sustainability research, attract funding and recruit students – all the while protecting our future for generations to come, and making the University of Sheffield truly sustainable.

The world needs to be carbon neutral by 2050, so to lead the way the University of Sheffield should set a more ambitious target to get there significantly sooner. We should aim to be carbon neutral by 2030, to show others that it can be done. Otherwise, who will?

An ambitious plan for our long-term sustainability

This proposal document aims to motivate and inspire a ‘Climate and Sustainability Strategy’ (CaSS) for the University of Sheffield.

CaSS should define ways for TUOS to become carbon neutral significantly before 2050. It should provide a roadmap, building on and extending the existing energy strategy, which currently aims to reduce carbon emissions by 43% up to 2020. The aim of climate neutrality is admittedly a “stretch” goal that intends to convey the magnitude of the societal challenge we face. But finding a way to achieve this goal demonstrates leadership and will inspire others to act.

To become truly sustainable and remain socially relevant our University campus needs to become carbon neutral. Rarely has the slogan “Think globally, act locally” been more true. To achieve the COP21 goals on limiting climate change means that we will really need to be carbon negative and we should bear this in mind in our campus based actions and our research.

This proposal sets out the reasons for a long-term strategy, the current situation on campus and the first steps to developing this strategy. It builds on our existing carbon reduction targets and draws on the experiences from a number of other Universities and organisations that have already set out along this path.

To develop a plan that delivers on its ambitious target, all branches of the University must support each other. There is a groundswell of bottom up support for a wide range of sustainability issues, from students and staff, and these have led to a number of ad-hoc interventions. Strong leadership from the Vice-Chancellor, Council and Senate is instrumental to following through on a strategy and deliver this vision. With strong leadership and sustainability as a high priority, the University community can come together to embed carbon neutrality into everything we do.

We propose to deliver a first version of the University of Sheffield Climate and Sustainability Strategy within one year of starting, with the aim of achieving campus carbon neutrality by 2030. The plan will set out short-term, mid-term and long-term goals, and will have to be regularly updated to adapt to three new situations. Such a strategy is bound to inter-connect our general University strategy themes in order to enable success:

1. Education and Student Experience
2. Research and its Impact
3. Strategic Partners
4. Our Place Locally and Globally
5. Our Public Responsibility

All these aspects have to be considered and should contribute to provide a strong and helpful framework to integrate sustainability into all parts of University life. This proposal outlines how our CaSS can be created. The first step is to create an institutional structure, with a dedicated sustainability task force containing the professional service managers and officers, scientific support teams and consultants required for this challenging task. Such a team would include relevant sub-groups to drive and deliver this ambitious strategy under the oversight of the VC, and UEB (Council and Senate) executive subgroups.

Download the proposal

A Climate and Sustainability Strategy (CaSS) – proposal (PDF, 3.1MB)