People & Planet launches new People & Planet University League report in Westminster

22 Jun 2012

Caroline Lucas and Jonathon Porritt in parliament today to present greenest universities with First Class 'degrees' and discuss pathway to sustainable education sector by 2020

Watch a video of the event above

Greenwich graduation ceremony with caroline lucas
People & Planet University League 2012 graduation ceremony wide angle

First Class Award winners at the graduation ceremony in parliament

Leading environmentalists, Jonathon Porritt and the UK’s first Green MP, Caroline Lucas, today presented 43 of the UK’s greenest universities with a First Class ‘degree certificate’ at the first ever People & Planet People & Planet University League graduation ceremony held in parliament.

At the graduation ceremony People & Planet also launched the findings of a brand new report on the progress made in greening the higher education sector over the last 6 years - and what still remains to be done. This includes a new Green Education Declaration which all Vice-Chancellors and associated organisations are called on to sign up to.

View a blog all about the event from one of People & Planet’s People & Planet University League volunteers, Jenny Hilder

The University of Greenwich topped the People & Planet People & Planet University League 2012 - the UK’s only comprehensive and independent green ranking of universities compiled annually by Britain’s largest student campaigning organisation. 46 institutions received First Class degrees in total this year.

Caroline Lucas MP said:

“It’s really encouraging to see students and universities working together to reduce their carbon emissions and prepare for a green economy. The 43 universities that I presented with their First Class green degrees at today’s graduation ceremony in Parliament are a shining example of what can be achieved. However, universities must keep up this momentum and will need strong leadership from the government if we are to truly create a sustainable, higher education sector.”

Sector progress on sustainability?

The new report’s findings show huge sustainability improvements across the sector including:

  • The number of universities gaining First Class honours has increased from 15 in 2007, to 46 in 2012 despite the criteria getting tougher each year.
  • Over 98% of universities now have comprehensive environmental policies, compared to just 65% when we launched the People & Planet University League in 2007.
  • The average percentage of renewable energy purchased by universities has increased to 72%, up from just 12.5% in 2008
  • Average carbon emissions per head across the sector have gone just over 1 tonne of CO2 to under 1 tonne

However, the People & Planet University League progress report also suggests that a lack of investment at national level is holding back progress on carbon reduction within the sector. Whilst the greenest universities are making significant improvements in environmental performance, many are still struggling to meet their obligations and now stand to face financial penalties.

Louise Hazan, author of the People & Planet University League 2012 report, said:

“The universities receiving First Class awards at today’s People & Planet University League graduation ceremony demonstrate clearly how going green can save money, improve their graduates’ prospects and support the UK’s transition to a low carbon economy. However we need further action to ensure their success is replicated throughout the sector. People & Planet is calling on all Vice-Chancellors to sign up to the Green Education Declaration launched today, setting out their commitment to achieve a sustainable higher education sector by 2020.”