Protecting the planet
Find out what we’re doing to understand, mitigate and adapt to climate change and support others to live more sustainably.
Our planet is in crisis. Human activity has been placing pressure on our natural resources since the industrial revolution but in recent decades we’ve been confronted with the true cost of that impact through environmental degradation, natural disaster, weather extremes, habitat destruction, food and water insecurity, and a decline in biodiversity.
The University of Edinburgh has an opportunity and a responsibility to play a role in shaping the solutions to mitigate and adapt to climate and environmental change. As educators, researchers, employers, consumers, and community partners, we are committed to joining the global mission to look after our planet and adapt to more sustainable living.
What we're doing
Here’s a snapshot of some of our activity. We’d like to invite you to help us do more.
As home to around 25,000 students from all over the world, employer of around 12,000 staff, and a partner to our community in Edinburgh, we need to significantly reduce our own carbon footprint if we are to support national and global efforts to transition to low-carbon living.
We are working towards becoming a zero carbon university by 2040. We’re doing this by monitoring our energy consumption, encouraging staff and students to do what they can to conserve energy, and introducing low carbon and renewable energy technology wherever possible. For the carbon emissions that can’t be removed, we have committed to undertaking direct carbon sequestration – the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Here at Edinburgh, we have an outstanding academic community, working across arts, humanities, science, medicine, and social science. We’ll need to draw from all that expertise to successfully mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Our Edinburgh Earth Initiative has been created to bring together research and teaching from across the disciplines that seeks to address the challenges posed by climate change. Through the Edinburgh Earth Initiative, we hope to further scientific understanding of the problems and solutions ahead and equip the next generation with the skills and knowledge to take science-informed action within a changing world.
The business sector will have a critical role to play in building a fairer, more sustainable economy and society, as we transition to low carbon living and adapt to new challenges brought about by climate change.
The University of Edinburgh Business School has been delivering climate change and sustainability research and teaching for more than a decade. Drawing from this expertise, the School’s Centre for Business, Climate Change and Sustainability is helping businesses and organisations adapt to more sustainable practices, informing policy and debate with research-led evidence, and equipping new business leaders with a deep understanding of sustainability and climate change.
Unprecedented levels of environmental change, growing human population, and extraction of resources are creating huge burdens on our oceans and the societies and livelihoods that depend on them.
Supported by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and Baillie Gifford, the Edinburgh Ocean Leaders programme brings together professionals from around the world who share an interest in protecting our oceans. Through one-to-one coaching and joint problem solving, the programme aims to build a global community of emerging ocean leaders who can work together to make an impact globally and locally.
The Nippon Foundation-University of Edinburgh Ocean Voices programme is a new ocean science diplomacy initiative dedicated to building capacity and connecting the voices of ocean-dependent people to ocean science and policy in the UN Decade and beyond. Without targeted support for capacity building, global goals to secure a future ocean that is accessible, healthy, productive and equitable by 2030 will be impossible to achieve.
To bring global emissions down, we need to transition to an affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy supply that is accessible to people and countries around the world. Understanding the interactions between energy generation and climate is crucial to providing a resilient and secure energy supply in the future.
Our engineers are developing not only low-carbon energy sources like marine, wind and hydropower, but also better energy storage solutions and more effective grid management. Meanwhile, our social scientists work on the challenges posed by energy transitions worldwide, addressing questions of energy justice, access and governance.
Are you interested in getting involved in our response to climate change? Get in touch to discuss how you can support us.