The climate crisis: our principles for action

“Climate change is the most demanding global challenge we all face.

“The University has a proud academic record as a leader in the field of climate research and a strong commitment to sustainability on campus and in the wider community we serve. We are committed to leading by example in the fight against climate change. 

“Our seven principles will guide our actions in the coming years. We acknowledge it will take time, effort, determination and sheer hard work to achieve a low carbon future. It will require difficult decisions and sometimes pragmatic compromise, alongside action that has direct impact. 

“Our overriding aim is to not only to make this transition ourselves, but to harness our expertise to support others, and we will mobilise the University’s combined knowledge, influence, assets and community to tackle this global challenge.”

Sir Alan Langlands, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds (2013 - 2020).

Our seven principles

  1. We shall prepare our next Climate Plan and sustainability strategy with a view to securing a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030 (twenty years earlier than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recommends). Furthermore, although we cannot yet guarantee to achieve it, it is our aim as an institution to have no direct carbon emissions by 2050. 
  2. We shall ensure that considerations of sustainability, and specifically our trajectory to a zero carbon future, shape institutional decision-making. In particular, we will ensure that all major decisions are informed by a sustainability value assessment, just as they are now by a risk assessment.
  3. As we make the transition to a low carbon future, we shall increasingly reorient our research and teaching away from the fossil fuel sector. As we do so, we shall continue to work with (and accept money from) fossil fuel companies when the work in question is to reduce carbon emissions or could help to accelerate the transition to a low carbon future.
  4. We shall further extend the Leeds Sustainable Discovery Theme programme to integrate sustainability into our teaching provision at all levels, and give opportunities to students to take part in activities to promote sustainability. We shall also further extend the inclusion of sustainability in our educational engagement and outreach activities. 
  5. We will continue to work with Leeds City Council and other partners, in particular through the Leeds Climate Commission and by extending our Living Lab Programme, towards the goal of making Leeds a net-zero carbon city by 2030. This is consistent with the City Council’s decision in March 2019 to declare a ‘climate emergency’, to sign up to science-based carbon reduction targets, and to work to make Leeds carbon neutral by 2030. We support the City Council’s call on central government to provide the funding and powers to make this possible.
  6. We shall likewise encourage and support the City Council and other relevant authorities to develop a sustainable transport system for the city region (thereby also helping to reduce the University’s indirect carbon footprint). We are committed to internationalisation, and to securing international excellence; but we shall explore ways of developing sustainable forms of international communication and reducing the impact of our business travel in a way which is consistent with that commitment.
  7. We will continue to invest responsibly. As a minimum, we shall invest only in companies which manage their affairs in a way which is consistent with Paris Climate Accord goals.