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The People and Planet environmental rankings place the University 84th in the UK, failing in areas such as recycling and strategy.

The People and Planet 2021 sustainability league table has ranked the University of Glasgow 84th out of 184 UK universities and 4th in Scotland on its environmental policy, which represented a 2:2 classification for the University scoring 40.3%. Within the Russell Group, this meant the University was ranked 20th out of 24. Overall the research found that 46% of universities are on course to meet the sector-wide emissions reduction target set by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), representing a 33% rise since 2019.

The index combines information presented on each university's website with data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and the Estates Management Record (EMR). The index then uses 16 factors to determine the overall ranking with the greatest emphasis being placed on carbon reduction, making up 15% of the overall score, and management systems, making up 10%.

According to the index, there were two areas that required significant improvement at the University of Glasgow. The University scored 0% in policy and strategy; the index criticised the University for not having an environmental policy that was reviewed regularly by a member of staff in a senior position. This was in addition to failing to have targets for environmental travel and sustainable procurement. The other area that the University scored 0% on was waste and recycling. 

One of the strongest scoring areas for the University was its ethical investments being ranked top in Scotland, and 12th UK wide. This is despite the failure to divest from arms companies, reinvesting divested funds and still using banks that finance the fossil fuel industry. 

Jack Ruane, University League Manager at People & Planet has said: “The improvement of some Russell Group universities and the increased number of institutions on course to meet the carbon reduction target are positive signs. However, it’s disappointing that the majority of the institutions are still not on course to meet the 15 year long sector-wide HEFCE carbon reduction target before next year’s deadline. The sector must prioritize immediate and rapid decarbonisation, rather than celebrate target-setting as far away as 2050 in some cases.”

“In the age of the climate crisis, transparency and accountability on sustainability must not be seen as a burden, but as a necessity. We will continue to encourage the sector to submit estates management (EMR) data to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) and call on the Office for Students (OFS) to work with the sector to provide regulatory leadership by mandating its reporting once again.”


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