Higher Education for Climate Change Action – Business School Engagement (Part 2)

hesiOn October 14th, the Higher Education Sustainability Initiative (HESI) will be meeting in Paris to discuss the Higher Education for Climate Change Action. HESI is a consortium of UN entities created in the run in to Rio+20. Through HESI, higher education institution signatories commit to teach sustainable development concepts in the core curriculum, encourage research on sustainable development issues, green their campuses and support sustainability efforts in the communities in which they reside.

In preparation for this meeting, here are five examples of how the PRME network is engaged in climate change topics. (Click here to read Part 1)

Measuring Carbon Footprints

The American University in Cairo became the first institution in the Middle East and North Africa to conduct a comprehensive study of its impact on climate change. It released the publication Our Carbon Footprint in 2012, prepared by the Office of Sustainability and the Desert Development Centre, the result of campus-wide efforts incorporating the work of faculty, staff and students. The school developed seventeen measures around which to reduce their carbon footprint including air conditioning, heating and ventilation, transportation, lighting, paper use, and water supply. They formed two separate university-wide task forces, one focused on reducing their energy consumption by one third overall within three years, and the other focused on conserving and recycling water. AUC issued its third Carbon Footprint Report earlier this year based on three years of reliable data. The school is actively engaging its students, staff and community in helping to reduce its emissions and become more energy efficient. For example, measures taken to encourage carpooling have resulted in 45% of people carpooling at least once a week in 2014 as compared to only 19% in 2012.

Supporting the development of new solutions

Strathmore University in Kenya hosts the Kenya Climate Innovation Centre (KCIC), an incubator that provides holistic, country-driven support to accelerate the development, deployment and transfer of locally relevant climate and clean energy technologies. The Centre provides incubation, capacity building services and financing to Kenyan entrepreneurs and new ventures that are developing innovative solutions in energy, water and agribusiness to address climate change challenges. The Centre supports 83 client enterprises selected from over 330 applicants who have developed a wide range of businesses from clean technology start-ups that develop clean cook stoves and bio-ethanol fuel to one that recycles blood from a community based slaughterhouse to create biogas for cooking. KCIC is a consortium consisting of Strathmore University, Global Village Energy Partnership International, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute. KCIC is supported by the World Bank, the United Kingdom’s UKaid and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Conducting ground breaking research

Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland’s Centre for Climate Justice, in partnership with the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, has taken a global lead in creating a repository for the collection and collation of research data within the increasingly important field of climate justice. The Centre hosts the Climate Justice Research Hub, a repository of peer-reviewed materials on the socio-economic effects and human-centred implications of climate change. The Centre is involved in a number of local and international projects including a 20 month project called ‘Scotland Lights up Malawi’ which aims to encourage communities in Malawi to replace dangerous and costly kerosene lamps, batteries and candles with environmentally more friendly solar lighting that also helps families reduce expenditure and thus has the potential to reduce poverty. The Centre also delivers an MSc in Climate Justice.

Through specialised programmes

Toulouse Business School has a specialised Master’s in Sustainable Development and Climate Change accredited jointly by the National Meteorological School and the National School of Life Sciences. The Masters started in 2008. It also organises a number of talks bringing a range of stakeholders together from inside and outside the university to discuss climate change. The school also offers training on carbon accounting for students and more generally across the school

Energy efficiency on campus

A number of business schools in the UK, including the University of Winchester, University of Leicester and the University of Bristol, are members of the Carbon Trust’s Higher Education Carbon Management Programme. The higher education sector in the UK is a growing sector which growing emissions, around 3 million tonnes per year. The initiative believes it is possible to reduce these by around 25%. The purpose of the programme is to raise awareness of the impact so climate change on the sector by helping institutions to develop the capacity to identify and deal with these impacts. To do so schools are encouraged to focus on reducing energy in three areas: heating, lighting and energy management. Universities engaged in the project report regularly through Carbon Management Plans. The Higher Education Funding Council for England also offers a range of funds for projects on campus that reduce an institutions’ emissions.

A growing number of business schools around the world have put in place systems to increase energy efficiency on campus. Ivey Business School in Canada has a five-year plan to eliminate inefficient lighting on campus. Energy-saving T8 ballasts are replacing nearly 50,000 T12 fixtures that illuminate the rooms and halls in dozens of campus buildings. The project will pay for itself through energy savings in about three years. The new fixtures are estimated to use at least 30% less energy than the previous fixtures. In addition to being more efficient, the new lamps also have a greater quality of light output. They also have a system that can remotely control campus air systems allowing areas that aren’t occupied to shutdown in particular on weekends and evenings. The majority of the buildings on campus are connected to this system.


For more examples of business school action around climate change take a look at these past PRiMEtime posts:

Networks and associations are also invited to co-sign an open letter to COP21 Ministers and Governments developed by a global alliance of tertiary and higher education sustainability and student networks and associations.

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