Climate framework increases ambition

The last week has been dominated by the global climate strike, a week of activities initiated by the climate movement “Fridays for Future”. We know that many employees and students are deeply committed and have planned to participate in these manifestations in some way.

As a University, we have a very important role to play in the work with the climate issue, and the University of Gothenburg has for a long time had high goals in its sustainability and environmental work. Our foremost contributions are within our core activities: our research and our education.

But we can also make contributions in our own activities and improve them according to the climate goals. In line with that, it’s suiting to disclose that I yesterday made the decision that the University of Gothenburg should sign the Climate Framework initiated by Chalmers School of Technology and KTH.

The Climate Framework describes how higher education institutions should adjust to the climate change with the aim to achieve the 1,5 degrees target. Before summer, they called on more universities to join, and I initiated an internal review to investigate whether the University should join or not. The investigation showed that there was a broad agreement among responding faculties and student unions, as well as within the central administration, that the university should join. It carries more weight when the entire organisation backs this, since the measures required to manage climate change will impact us all. For that reason, it was important for me to secure broad support for the Climate Framework internally, so that our efforts do not end up being just a signature.

Caption: Raymond Samo, chair of GUS, and Eva Wiberg on 26 September 2019, at the decision to join the Climate Framework

We are already the Swedish University that makes most efforts within the sustainability area. We have for a number of years ranked high in the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency ranking of Swedish authorities’ environmental work. And we want to be the best in Europe. The Climate Framework will be a clear driving force in our work. We will integrate our goals and necessary measures with our environmental management system. Together with our faculties, we will also need to identify within which areas we need to increase our efforts and reduce our footprint.

I have also expressed a wish to improve the possibilities to disseminate research connected to the climate and sustainability. If we, as advocates for the academy and for research, can be better in making ourselves heard and reaching out with climate related research, I want us to do that. Today, many of our research news are already related to the climate and sustainability, and we offer our expertise to the media via our expert list in these subjects. Today, it’s also Researchers’ Night, and many of our climate researchers are fully booked.

Like many others, I’m also deeply moved by Greta Thunberg’s speech, anger and commitment. When she says that we should listen to the researchers, I don’t just want to agree. I want us to do more, together.

Eva Wiberg

Bryssel, brexit and the European agenda

All of a sudden, the summer is behind us and we are well on our way into a new semester. New and old students have arrived and they bring life to both Gothenburg and the University’s premises. It’s easy to go back to familiar habits again, don’t you agree?

Last week, I visited the Vice-Chancellor’s meeting in Brussels. Almost 60 Vice-Chancellors from the Nordic countries met to get information about what’s happening now with the new parliament and commission after the EU election last spring.

The discussions in Brussels are of course marked by the insecurities around Brexit. Through media we can follow and be fascinated by the sometimes dramatic gestures by different parties. Beyond tough quotings such as “I’d rather be dead in a ditch”, many member countries have large concerns about what’s going to happen. We had the opportunity to listen to a brief review by Georg Riekels, advisor and member of the group that are negotiating the exit. The discussions and questions were to a large part about Brexit’s influence on our collaborations in research and education. There are many insecurities on how the collaborations between the countries will continue in the future. What we know today, is that the British government has made a guarantee that existing collaborations will continue to 31 December 2020, hard Brexit or not. The outgoing general secretary in the European Council, Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen, gave us the broader picture of the European collaboration. Apart from Brexit, there are some difficult challenges in Europe, and at the meeting in Brussels a new strategic agenda for 2019 – 2024 was presented. The strategic agenda focuses on four main priorities:

  • protecting citizens and freedoms
  • developing a strong and vibrant economic base
  • building a climate-neutral, green, fair and social Europe
  • promoting European interests and values on the global stage

An immediate challenge is also Brexit. Jeppe Tranholm-Mikkelsen stated that we are no longer the leading group in the world. From a global perspective, we are a collection of small and medium-sized countries that need to unite and work together. Most of us in the Nordic delegation shared that picture. International collaboration is considered crucial, and not only The University of Gothenburg has a clear focus on this in upcoming efforts.

Eva Wiberg