The University of Manchester to demonstrate global leadership by making an equitable contribution to tackling climate change

This proposal is for an energy-based 2°C carbon budget to guide all UoM operations and strategic planning

This submission is to the UoM “Big Ideas” call; Nov. 2018

Corresponding author: Kevin Anderson
(there are 29 UoM signatories to the proposal, including post-docs, PhDs, PS staff and academics)

The recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) makes clear the unprecedented scale and timeframe of the mitigation challenge facing the global community if it is to deliver on the commitments enshrined in the Paris Agreement.

Academia has been central to quantifying and qualifying the global and science-based ‘carbon budgets’ accompanying the Paris 1.5 and 2°C thresholds.[1] Moreover, University of Manchester academics have led on developing a carbon budget framework for the UK (now embedded in the 2008 Climate Change Act), the devolved administrations and, within the last two years, Greater Manchester Combined Authorities (GMCA) and Manchester City Council (MCC).[2]

The “Big Idea” outlined here, is for the University of Manchester to demonstrate its confidence in the veracity of its academics’ research and to fulfil its role as a Manchester, UK and global leader on climate change. Specifically, we propose that the University establish and adopt a comprehensive carbon budget framework to underpin all its future activities and development. To ensure a relatively robust and manageable accounting regime, the budget would relate specifically to energy use, including operational emissions arising from its research, teaching and knowledge exchange activities, along with the running of estates and university-related travel.[3] The most obvious approach would be to borrow the scientific method and analysis developed by Tyndall Manchester academics and used to derive equity-based 2°C mitigation rates for GMCA and MCC.

The University already takes an important stand on a range of issues, race and gender equality amongst them. It is also a recent signatory to ‘The SDG Accord’ requiring it to “embed the Sustainable Development Goals into our education, research, leadership, operations, administration and engagement activities”. Underpinning SDG 13, the IPCC’s 1.5°C report emphasises how climate change is an existential challenge that will impose devastating impacts on poor, climate vulnerable and typically ‘global south’ communities. Furthermore and as emphasised by the UN, “Women commonly face higher risks and greater burdens from the impacts of climate change in situations of poverty, and the majority of the world’s poor are women”. Consequently, the proposed University carbon budgets would have a strong scientific foundation, resonate with its commitments to race and gender equality and align closely with the University’s third (and unique) pillar of ‘Social Responsibility’.

A Russell Group University embedding such academic integrity and moral leadership in its daily operation and strategic planning would lend support to policy makers endeavouring to meet the challenges posed by climate change, as well as to the wider international community.

[1] Carbon budgets put a constraint on the total global quantity of emissions (normally measured in billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide – GtCO2) that can be released from today and on throughout and beyond the century. The budgets relate to a given probability range of remaining below a specific temperature rise; for example a 66 to 100% chance of stabilising the global temperature rise at or below 2°C.

[2] Away from the UK, Tyndall Manchester has contributed evidence to the European Commission’s assessment of the EU’s Paris-based carbon budget range; it has made similar submissions to the Swedish parliament and is currently developing regional carbon budgets for almost half of Sweden’s Län (regional governments) and for the smaller Kommuner (local councils).

[3] Over time a complementary consumption-based accounting regime could be developed to provide guidance on carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions associated with purchases of equipment, materials in building projects and food consumed on campus.

Signatories to the proposal:
Prof. Kevin Anderson. Tyndall Centre, School of MACE
Prof. Teresa Anderson, Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre
Prof. Adisa Azapagic, School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science
Dr. Daniel Bailey, School of Social Sciences
Lisa Bell, Tyndall Centre, School of MACE
Dr John Broderick, Tyndall Centre, School of MACE
Claire Brown, Power Networks CDT
Simon Bullock, Power Networks CDT
Philippa Calver, Tyndall Centre, School of MACE
Timothy Capper, Power Networks CDT
Teresa Chilton, Faculty of Science and Engineering
Prof. Ian Cotton, School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Dr. Alejandro Gallego Schmid, Tyndall Centre, School of MACE
Dr. Claire Hoolohan, Tyndall Centre, School of MACE
Alistair Hudson, Whitworth Art Gallery
Dr Jaise Kuriakose, Tyndall Centre, School of MACE
Prof. Alice Larkin, School of MACE
Andrew Little, Power Networks CDT
Dr. Sarah Mander, Tyndall Centre, School of MACE
Dr. Carly McLachlan, Tyndall Centre, School of MACE
Prof. Tim O’Brien, School of Physics and Astronomy
Prof. John O’Neill, School of Social Sciences
James Mason, Doctoral Training Programme
Prof. Matthew Paterson, School of Social Sciences
Dr. Kate Scott, School of Environment, Education and Development
Dr. Maria Sharmina, Tyndall Centre, School of MACE
Amrita Sidhu, Tyndall Centre, School of MACE
Dr. Laurence Stamford, School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science
Esme Ward, Manchester Museum