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Climate emergency

Using our leadership in human-centred research, teaching and knowledge exchange to influence the creation of a sustainable future for everyone.

UAL's response to the climate emergency

The climate emergency is one of the most urgent problems facing society and the planet.

To demonstrate our leadership, UAL has put decarbonisation at the heart of our academic offer through three major new commitments:

  1. 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.
  2. UAL has placed 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.
  3. At UAL, sustainability is a required part of the student learning experience, through the introduction of relevant learning outcomes across courses. This commitment is accompanied by the roll-out of our carbon literacy training programme for all academic and technical staff.

The university’s commitment was extended further in 2021. James Purnell, UAL President & Vice-Chancellor, said: “We have a strong track record in promoting sustainability but such is the scope and scale of the environmental crisis facing all of us, we have to do more. Much more. That is why we have announced the most demanding carbon reduction plan of universities in the UK.

The UK government has set the goal of net zero by 2050. However, not everyone will reach that goal, so some institutions will have to do more to compensate.  We are therefore committing to UAL going faster, so as to bring the average down. Our target will be to achieve net zero across our total carbon footprint by 2040.”

Professor Jeremy Till said:
“From education and curriculum to conversations across the creative sector, the realities of UAL’s net zero carbon pledges are far-reaching, and empower students, staff and the creative community to innovate a different future. We will collaborate with other institutions to make progress on climate justice, sharing knowledge and best practice in a collective response to net carbon zero within the higher education sector.”

Climate Assemblies


Staff and students have come together to pioneer the Citizen Assembly model throughout the university. These Climate Assemblies have been attended by hundreds of students and staff from all of our respective colleges.

The assembly process follows the Extinction Rebellion model of the Citizens Assembly, involving a first large Assembly followed by smaller working group meetings that took place in November and December. These will involve fact finding, input from experts, discussion and deliberation. The focus of these assemblies has been around four themes:

  • Curriculum
  • Carbon neutral
  • Zero waste
  • Divest/Procurement

For more information on the Climate Assembly process, contact climatenetwork@arts.ac.uk