University of Helsinki joins declaration of climate emergency

“We want to take bigger steps to help mitigate climate change through research information as well as sustainable and responsible operations. This work can’t wait,” says Vice-Rector Tom Böhling.

EAUC, the UK’s Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education, the US-based non-profit Second Nature as well as the Youth and Education Alliance under the UN Environment Programme have issued a declaration of a climate emergency, which has been signed by thousands of universities and institutions of higher education around the world. The University of Helsinki signed the declaration on 29 November. The declaration will be handed to representatives of national governments and the media at the Madrid COP25 climate convention in December.

In the declaration, universities and institutions of higher education commit to boost climate change research, to achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2050 and to increase the environmental skills of their staff and students.

“We want to take even bigger steps to help mitigate climate change through research information as well as our sustainable and responsible operations. This work can’t wait,” says Tom Böhling, the University’s vice-rector in charge of sustainability and responsibility.

This climate action is based on the University’s research which can help create solutions to stop the warming of our climate. Climate change research and the teaching based on it are multidisciplinary and linked to chemistry, physics, meteorology, biology, forestry and agriculture, geosciences and social sciences, not to forget the humanities and educational sciences.

On the University’s campuses, climate action can also take the form of investments into renewable energy and energy efficiency. The goal of the University of Helsinki is to be carbon-neutral by the end of the year 2035.

The University also wants to help mitigate climate change by focusing its investments on low-carbon targets. The objective is that no more than one per cent of its investment portfolio would be invested in companies that produce fossil fuels. The University’s travel guide will also be updated to reduce the climate impact of work-related travel. The University compensated for the emissions from its work-related plane travel through a Gold Standard certified project.

“We are currently drafting an implementation plan for sustainability and responsibility as part of our new strategy for 2021–2030. We want to spread sustainable and responsible procedures to everyone in the University community,” says Böhling.

Read more about the University of Helsinki’s sustainability efforts on the Sustainable University website.