University of Stirling leads the conversation around climate action

Back to news
An image of a loch

The University of Stirling is joining with higher education institutions across the UK to showcase its vital contribution to tackling the climate emergency.

The ‘Climate Action’ campaign, launched today [Thursday 28 April, 2022] by sector body Universities UK, aims to demonstrate higher education’s diverse response to climate change, from pioneering new technologies and solutions, to equipping future generations with the knowledge and understanding to respond to the challenges of a climate-changed future.

Stirling has been leading the conversation around climate change across the Forth Valley, as a number of new ventures aimed at supporting Scotland’s transition to net zero, have got under way.

The University’s Sustainability Plan, published this week, sets out ambitious goals for the University to become a net zero institution by 2040, taking action across a range of areas from the management of its estate and finances, to embedding sustainability across learning, teaching and research.

Professor Sir Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, said: “The climate emergency presents one of the most significant, and complex, challenges for humankind. That’s why the University’s new Sustainability Plan takes a holistic approach, from driving increasing efficiencies across our campus to putting sustainability at the heart of our educational offer.  

“As a university, we have made significant progress in reducing our carbon footprint, while our researchers are taking cutting-edge innovations to the heart of the international climate debate.”

Principal Professor Sir Gerry McCormac University of Stirling

Professor Sir Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of Stirling

The latest data reveals that the organisation’s carbon emissions for 2020/21 have reduced by 51.5% since 2007/08; a clear downward trend across 12 consecutive years.

The Sustainability Plan reiterates the University’s commitment to help communities across the world to find sustainable solutions. That effort begins in the Forth Valley, with Scotland’s International Environment Centre (SIEC), launched in November 2021, as part of the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal. SIEC is funded through investment from the Scottish Government (£17m) and UK Government (£5m). By working closely with the region’s industry, and partners in Forth Valley College and Stirling and Clackmannanshire councils, SIEC will create an ‘innovation community’ at the heart of the region, driving the creation of a net zero regional economy and acting as a global exemplar of low-carbon growth.

SIEC’s flagship project, the Forth Environmental Resilience array, was launched to an international audience at COP26 and pioneers a world-first, catchment-scale environmental monitoring system that will enable the region’s businesses, communities, and policymakers to make an evidence-based transformation to lower carbon models of prosperity. Meanwhile, at an international level, the forestLAB research hub has been created to explore climate-smart, conservation-led solutions for sustainable development in central Africa.

Collaboration is the key to success, and the University has committed to sharing insights and best practice with regional partners and stakeholders through the Forth Valley for Net Zero initiative. 

Upskilling future generations to respond to a climate-changed future is critical. In partnership with Forth Valley College, SIEC places an emphasis on equipping the region’s workforce with the skills necessary to thrive in a net zero economy, while the University is taking steps to position climate literacy at the heart of all academic programmes, ensuring that every graduate is prepared for a climate-changed world, no matter what subject they study.

Professor McCormac added: “Since its foundation, the University of Stirling has delivered education with a purpose, preparing the next generation of leaders to respond to a fast-moving world and to change it for the better. As we come together to tackle the climate emergency, that mission has never been more important.”