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Climate Learning Week

Is Warwick a Sustainable Campus?

Robert Evans, Final Year UG, History and Politics


Our approach to and discourse surrounding sustainability and climate action has shifted radically within the past five years, culminating in a flurry of institutions – including the University of Warwick – declaring a climate emergency just over a year ago. I think everyone in the History community would agree that making campus more sustainable and setting firm targets on eliminating the university’s carbon footprint is incredibly important. With Warwick’s Climate Learning Week coming up, I thought I would research how the university is becoming more sustainable and what we, as a community, can do to help.

So, what is the university actually doing to become more sustainable? In their climate emergency declaration last September, they committed to a target of emitting total net zero carbon emissions by 2050, with an intermediate goal of doing this for direct emissions and energy usage by 2030. These commitments seek to build on the vast reductions already made in terms of energy and water usage since 2005/06. There have also been big steps to make Warwick’s food outlets more sustainable, with reductions in single-use cups and cutlery by almost a half and using the ‘TooGoodToGo’ scheme to reduce food waste.

While these actions are clearly a step in the right direction, I could not help but feel like they were only a step. I decided to contact Climate Reality Warwick to see whether they shared a similar sentiment. They, too, believed that Warwick’s sustainability proposals could go much further. In particular, they highlight that with enough resources and investment, their emissions targets could be reached far quicker than 2030. Additionally, while they are encouraged by the steps to reduce food and plastic waste, with over 300,000 single use items being used and only 1000 meals being saved from waste, they believe more can be done. The society would like to see Warwick divest from major pollutants, cease housing unsustainable firms on campus and introduce a compost scheme for Warwick Accommodation run buildings.

From my research and speaking to the Climate Reality Society, it is clear that more can be done on campus to become more sustainable. It begs the question, what can we do to help? There are many ways to become active, both in the university and as an individual. Joining one of the many sustainable societies on campus is perhaps a good place to start, as is becoming a 'green champion'. If you wish to live more sustainably, there is lots of advice on the Warwick's Sustainability Twitter account on how you can do this. Climate Learning Week in week five offers a good chance for everyone to become more actively sustainable, so please look out for university or society-run events taking place.