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University of the Arts London responds to climate emergency

Written by John Wallace
Published date 16 September 2019

The climate emergency is one of the most urgent problems facing society and the planet. UAL aims to use our leadership in human-centred research, teaching and knowledge exchange to influence the creation of a sustainable future for everyone.

To demonstrate our leadership, UAL is to put decarbonisation at the heart of our academic offer through three major new commitments.

UAL has appointed Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Jeremy Till to lead the University’s response to the climate emergency. Professor Till is Pro Vice-Chancellor Research, Head of Central Saint Martins and a leading thinker on scarcity, sustainability and creativity in the built environment.

UAL will place all academic operations on a sustainable basis through a significant expansion of our Environmental Management System (ISO14001). This is a first for UK Art & Design institutions and makes UAL one of a handful of global universities with a comprehensive measure of sustainability across all its operations including learning, teaching and research.

UAL will make sustainability a required part of the student learning experience, through the introduction of relevant learning outcomes across courses, starting in this academic year. This commitment will be accompanied by the roll-out of a carbon literacy training programme for all academic and technical staff.

Sir Nigel Carrington, Vice-Chancellor of UAL, said:

“The climate emergency is a societal threat as much as it is an environmental crisis. The big advances in this challenge will therefore come from changes in human behaviour. UAL is uniquely placed to influence those changes under Jeremy Till’s leadership.”


Professor Jeremy Till said:

“The climate emergency and collapse of biodiversity are central issues of our age. I am committed to ensuring that UAL engages with the issues across our academic and operational activities. UAL is well positioned to use its creative intelligence to make a distinctive contribution to the debate and action around climate and ecological issues.”


Campaigns Officer Amber Goneni, speaking on behalf of the Arts Students’ Union, said:

“Students are leading the campaign to create a better world for the next generation, learning from the mistakes of our predecessors. We need to act collectively if we are to realise the structural changes needed to reverse the effects of catastrophic climate change. We are looking forward to working with UAL, using our influence as creative leaders to address the problem locally and globally.”

UAL is already recognised for our sustainable business operations, is in London’s Top 4 green universities in People & Planet Green League 2019 and among the Top 20 most environmentally sustainable universities in England.

Since 2013, UAL has invested significantly to reduce our environmental impact. We switched to 100% renewable electricity in 2018 and are on track to meet our pledge to cut our carbon emissions by 43% by 2020 and to achieve carbon-neutral utilities by 2030. UAL’s new London College of Fashion building at East Bank in Stratford is designed to achieve BREEAM Outstanding status, expanding our reputation for sustainable building design and natural ventilation as we work towards decarbonisation.