University and local council lead on green agenda

Two key organisations in Newcastle-under-Lyme are leading the way in protecting the environment.

The Council has agreed to set up a climate change action group as part of ambitions to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030 while Keele University has been named as one of the top 30 universities in Europe for its social impact.

The Council’s action group – chaired by an independent person – will involve communities and the public, private and educational sectors to encourage and co-ordinate the reduction of the town’s carbon footprint to zero.

It’s one of the main outcomes of an amended climate emergency motion which has received cross-party support.

A recent report, published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warns that a two degree rise in the global temperature is likely to cause major harm to the environment and subsequently calls for governments and other authorities to limit any increase to 1.5 degrees.     

Cabinet will work with the action group to examine what more can be done by the Council through its policies, practices and actions before producing a plan which will be monitored and reviewed.

Meanwhile, Keele University has been ranked as one of the top 30 universities in Europe for its social and economic impact in the 2019 Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings announced this month.

The Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings is a pioneering initiative to recognise universities across the world for their social and economic impact, based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Keele scored exceptionally well across the league table, and in Europe was ranked top 10 against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals of “Good Health and Wellbeing”, and “Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions”, which demonstrates Keele’s commitment through its teaching, research and knowledge transfer, as well as internal practices, policies and procedures.

Professor Mark Ormerod, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Provost at Keele University, said:

“We are delighted to be ranked so highly in this global league table that demonstrates our excellence in sustainability, and our strong commitment to embed sustainability in everything we do and align our activities to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

“We’re proud to receive this recognition in our 70th year of making a difference locally, regionally, nationally and internationally, and supporting the development of our world in a sustainable way through our excellence in research and education and our external engagement."

The Council has already looked at the energy efficiency of its buildings, including the operational depot, Jubilee2 and Bradwell Crematorium, as well as street lighting, emissions from its vehicle fleet and business travel. Energy saving measures have been introduced in some Council-owned properties, such as Lancaster Building, and food waste collected from residents every week is converted into electricity and compost using anaerobic digestion.

More than 41 councils across the country have passed similar motions since the IPCC’s report was published in October 2018.

Chief Executive Martin Hamilton and leaders from all political parties were asked to write to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs asking for UK powers and funding to address the issue.

The Climate Change Act 2008 requires the UK to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.