As we approach the anniversary of the RHUL governing Council’s declaration of a climate emergency, it seems an appropriate moment to ask what has been achieved since then. While the long term environmental implications of COVID may be hard to estimate, it is worth noting that many academics have significantly reduced their carbon footprint this year by flying and commuting far less than normal. The major news story is that the RHUL three year strategy contains several references to environmental sustainability.
The strategy is, however, strategically vague about how any commitment will be implemented. Certainly more attention to detail is needed; on page 8 of this publically available document it states that RHUL is committed to addressing how ‘environmental sustainability should be reduced in our operations’. I hope this is a typo.
If we were running an annual appraisal of RHUL’s performance here we might be looking for SMART goals and at the moment there are none to be seen. Maybe colleagues would like to suggest some. I’d like to request that at the very least
1. RHUL should immediately sign the SDG accord
This essentially is a corporate commitment to integrating the goals into the College’s strategy and operations, BUT there is annual monitoring to keep track of how an institution is doing and to note which of the many goals are a priority for the institution.
2. RHUL should adopt really clear environmental Key Performance Indicators for college operations e.g. zero waste to landfill campus by when? EV charging point by when? Carbon neutral by when?
The fact that Environmental Sustainability appears in the College strategy means that some level of accountability is possible but KPIs and a timetable for implementation would really increase credibility.
Meanwhile in other news, some important, pragmatic environmental is work going on at RHUL but this is often in isolation. So here’s an update from my point of view:
The RHUL UCU Environmental Sustainability Committee has met several times.
The School of PDA now has Environmental Sustainability as a standing item on its agenda and an Environmental Sustainability Group, with a strong UCU presence in discipline specific subgroups in Drama, Media Arts and Music. One focus for discussion has been curating events in November during Glasgow COPC 26.
UCU continues to campaign for a green new deal and UCU is offering green rep training courses with a focus on negotiating skills. The next one is in June and I hope to attend. Please let me know if anyone else is interested.
Sigrun Wagner and I hope to be offering a pilot RHUL Carbon Literacy Training (CLT) in the summer. This training is free and seeks to widely disseminate carbon literacy; inspire commitment to action; and encourage attendees to become future trainers themselves.
Please let me know about any other pragmatic environment initiatives that are happening.
RHUL UCU Green Rep