Global network of universities formed at COP27 to fight climate change

Tapping youth power for climate action from classrooms & campuses


November 19, 2022

/ By / New Delhi

Global network of universities formed at COP27 to fight climate change

Rajendra Shende at launch of global network of Universities

While the ongoing COP27 at Sharm El Sheikh heads towards a familiar last-minute face saving declaration, covering up abject failure to come up with any clear commitment and advancing uphill battle to rapidly cut carbon emissions, the youth seem to have taken the bull by the horns and formed a global university network to begin climate action right from their class rooms and campuses.

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Former Minister of Environment of India, Prakash Javadekar and Erik Solheim former Minister of Environment of Norway, have jointly launched a global network of Universities for Carbon Neutrality that will sensitise the students and faculty to climate change and carbon emissions of their campus and also encourage them to jointly start monitoring their emissions and find ways to curtail these.

“These steps would prepare the youth in an ideal way for the outside world where rising carbon emissions have put a question mark on the survival of the planet Earth,” says Rajendra Shende, Chairman of Terre, an Indian environmental NGO and the man behind University Network of Smart Campus Cloud Network (SCCN).

“Youth in universities represent the mountainous of potential that can be mobilised  to address the Climate Crisis and support PM Modi’s resolve to be Net Zero,’’ said Javadekar at his inaugural speech, while announcing the launch of global movement of ‘Not Zero-Net Zero’ in university campus.

‘‘University Network of Smart Campus Cloud Network-SCCN is unique in the sense that it is singularly focussed on implementation of UN SDGs -United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in the campus and specifically making campus carbon neutral, the most needed remedy for Climate Catastrophe facing the world today,’’ added Javadekar.

Javadekar along with Erik Solheim, former Minister of Environment of Norway and former Under Secretary General of United Nations together are mentors for this global initiative of Carbon Neutrality under the ‘Smart Campus Cloud Network’ established by Shende, who himself is a former Director of UNEP and led the battle to save the ozone layer as part of the Montreal Protocol.

“Youth from Universities are in the frontline of the much-needed innovations in mitigation and adaptation to climate change. The time for government, business and civil society engaged in green washing is now over. It is the time to enter the arena of transparent action leaving behind illusionary pledges and unfulfilled promises. The young minds are the key to turn the tide of climate change,’’ said Solheim.

Javadekar added that ‘Not Zero Net Zero’ movement aimed at making university campus carbon neutral was anchored on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Mission LiFE’, a global drive for environment friendly lifestyle. ‘‘What better place to start this carbon neutrality movement than university campus where minds are moulded and action are accelerated,’’ said Shende, who was also IPCC’s Co-ordinating Lead Author and the prime mover of ‘Not Zero-Net-Zero’.

In a press statement, the organisers say that for over three decades, the climate talks and long debates have manufactured the never-ending pledges and produced hollow promises without any targetted accomplishments. The host country Egypt for COP27, representing the African continent, has therefore aimed to take implementation on top of the agenda.

‘‘Universities are the living laboratories for innovation and dynamic destination of creativity. That is where promises are funnelled down into execution. Carbon neutral campuses would not only be inspiring to government and businesses but also a pressure point for climate negotiators who are endlessly compromising the text of the climate agreement resulting in diluting the goals of Paris Climate Agreement,’’ added Shende.

The organisers add that university campuses are all ready to spearhead the climate battle under overall targets of sustainable development goals. SCCN, through its network of over 400 universities, has launched a global campaign, “Not Zero-Net Zero” to make university campuses carbon neutral. More than 250 universities have pledged to make their campus carbon neutral starting with baseline survey and energy, water and waste audit in their campuses.

The organisers add that the universities pledging Not Zero-Net Zero are also required to disclose their carbon emissions data on digital dashboards setting an example for the society to reduce the carbon footprints. “Unless we measure, we cannot manage” is the new motto for adopting IoT -Internet of Things as tool to achieve Net Zero.

Speaking on the occasion, Bhanu Neupane, Project Manager for Open Access at UNESCO in Paris emphasised the concept of ‘Open Access: Success for Net-Zero’. He further highlighted that misinformation on climate change would delay achieving the targets of keeping temperature well below 2°C.

The organisers say that the cloud dashboard, developed by SCCN under guidance of global digital leader, Ecolibrium, winner of UNFCCC award that is partnering in the Net Zero movement with strong sense of social responsibility, demonstrates the openness of data energy, water and waste generation patterns.

Fostering the disclosure of emission trends, sustaining neutrality and transparent reporting are the filters to ensure that data on the emissions from universities is not just greenwash. Aiming to analyse the big data from campus and the success stories, SCCN is jointly developing the accreditation standard to certify the university campuses as Carbon Neutral Campus in collaboration with the Gulf Organisation of Research and Development, (GORD) in Qatar.

“Carbon Neutral Campus is visionary movement in education sector that would create tomorrow’s climate ambassadors,’’ said AlHorr Founder Chairman of GORD.



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