press release
Published: 26 October 2021

Guildford has the will and expertise to lead the UK fight against climate change, says sustainability expert

The University of Surrey has announced its commitment to become Net-Zero by 2030 and has urged Guildford to help the UK lead its fight against climate change.

As the world's leaders get ready to travel to the pivotal UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, the University of Surrey is making progress against its four-point plan to help cap the rise of global temperatures at 1.5 degrees Celsius. The University is also highlighting to local partners the many areas of world-leading research expertise contributing to the local, national and international fight against climate change, aligned to the COP26 priorities of energy transitions, clean air, adaptation, green finance and nature. 

To meet its ambitious Net-Zero target, the University will: 

  • Continue to reduce its demand for energy by following best practices in energy conservation; 
  • Grow on-site renewable generation to 20 per cent of demand through a long-term private sector partnership that promotes research and innovation; 
  • Move energy supply to verifiable, certificated sources of green energy; 
  • Use verified sources of offsetting for residual emissions.

The University of Surrey is believed to be one of only three universities in the country with a science-based emissions target. This has allowed the University to calculate its exact share of carbon emission reduction required to make a fair contribution towards limiting the rise of global temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Graham Miller, Professor of Sustainability in Business and lead on sustainability at the University of Surrey, said:

"The people of Guildford and the University of Surrey's wider community care deeply about climate change and the effect it will have on the planet for generations to come. This is why we were proud to be one of the first universities to commit to becoming Net-Zero by 2030.

"While our Net-Zero target is ambitious, we have been inspired by the passion shown by the wider Guildford community. Whether it is through projects such as Greening Southway or research initiatives like the Guildford Living Lab --- Guildford has the will and expertise to do more than its fair share in the battle against climate change."

Climate change has been one of the Council’s key priorities since they declared a climate emergency in 2019. In that time, they have sought to become more environmentally sustainable and have focused on reducing their own carbon footprint and improving air quality in the borough.

Lead Councillor for Climate Change, Cllr Jan Harwood, said:

“The first step in tackling climate change issues in our borough is realising that there is a problem. We have made great steps in reducing our own CO2 emissions and will continue to reduce it even further. We need to do all we can on a local level by leading the way and making positive changes in reducing our carbon footprint. In our own buildings, we have installed solar panels to increase our sustainable energy use and installed electric vehicle charging points throughout the town and in our car parks. We are also home to Stagecoach who have the biggest electric fleet in the South of England and outside of London.

“We want local future developments in our borough to be eco-friendly, carbon-neutral, energy-efficient and sustainable. Our draft local plan includes requirements for carbon emissions in new builds to be 20% better than the national requirement. We are working with developers toward fully electric, gas-free buildings that will eventually become zero carbon. Our policies seek for new builds to require less energy; this is more important and will make more of a difference than having a small contribution to low carbon energy.  

“In 2018, we began a detailed and targeted air quality monitoring strategy within the town centre. Earlier this year, specialist consultants Air Pollution Services found a number of roads exceeded the national standard. We have declared an air quality management area (AQMA) in our town centre and will be putting together an action plan to reduce air pollution. 

“Last month we put pedestrians first in the town centre with our Car Free Day. It was an opportunity for local people to take positive action against climate change, enjoy our town centre and explore more sustainable travel options. Changing people’s behaviours is a key part of this, and we will continue to engage with businesses and communities – with a particular focus on younger people.

“We cannot solve this on our own; everyone needs to play their part. We are working with our partners and the wider community for a more joined-up approach. We have been working with the University of Surrey’s iSCAPE (Improving the Smart Control of Air Pollution in Europe), GCARE (Global Centre for Clean Air Research) and Living Lab projects to analyse air quality around the borough and use their world-class expertise to have a major impact here in Guildford."

Note to editors

Related research 

Clean Energy

The Advanced Technologies Institute is leading the way with research to commercialise the next generation of solar cells. This new clean energy solution is based on printable large area deployment of inexpensive organic-inorganic hybrid solar cells. These cells are based on Perovskite materials and have reached over 20% efficiency, with organic devices reaching close to 15%. Such materials will provide a step-change by lowering manufacturing and deployment costs, thereby accelerating the transition to clean energy.

Finance 

The Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity’s work on sustainable finance was shortlisted in 2018 for the ICAEW Finance for the Future Award. In its aim to develop a powerful new framing for investment as a meaningful ‘commitment to the future', the centre is working closely with the Aldersgate Group, driving action for a sustainable economy across industries. 

The director of CUSP holds the first Chair of Sustainable Development in the UK, his work fed into the United Nations SDG development process, the 2015 UNEP inquiry on the design of a sustainable financial system, the IPBES’s Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, and the UK Ministry of Defence’s Strategic Trends Review 2018.

Surrey Hills 

Experts from the Environmental Psychology Research Group have worked with the Surrey Hills AONB examining how to support nature engagement among young people to promote their health and wellbeing.

Our research in a DEFRA Test & Trial of Environmental Land Management in the Surrey Hills AONB uses high-resolution satellite earth observation to monitor, report and verify biodiversity provision and enhancement.

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