The University of Huddersfield is joining forces with Kirklees Climate Commission (KCC) in the region’s fight against climate change and will develop initiatives enabling people and organisations in Kirklees to work towards net zero carbon emissions and greater climate resilience so that it can be a happier, healthier, more prosperous, and inclusive place.

The University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Tim Thornton has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Professor Peter Roberts OBE, Chairman of the KCC which formalises the already strong relationship between the two organisations.

The MoU will see the Commission re-locate to the University where it will be based permanently at Huddersfield Business School thereby opening up opportunities for further collaboration, including joint applications for project funding.  It will present opportunities for the University, KCC, Kirklees Council and a wide range of other public, private, and voluntary sector organisations, to develop synergies, identify potential situations, and then apply them to the problem of climate change.

“The University will not only enhance the KCC’s approach to enabling engagement and debate on climate change,” said Professor Thornton, “but by working together, we can strengthen the evidence base, promote best practice and regularly review progress across the district and beyond.

“Co-location and closer collaboration will also unlock further possibilities to enhance impact with the University’s research and teaching,” he added.

The University is one of several major stakeholders involved in the KCC and the pair originally began working together when Professor John Allport from the University’s School of Computing and Engineering joined the Commission.

Following further discussions between the KCC and Huddersfield Business School’s Reader in Sustainable and Resilient Communities, Dr John Lever, and 3M Professor of Innovation Liz Towns-Andrews, it became obvious the KCC and the University could be strong allies and complement one another’s efforts in tackling climate change.

“Many aspects of life are already affected by climate change, and dealing with these negative consequences is an urgent matter,” said KCC Chairman Professor Roberts.

“More importantly, it is essential to develop and apply solutions that avoid or mitigate against the cause of climate change, and having an innovative space at the University is territory that the MoU can capitalise upon,” he said.

Sustainability at the University

This latest endeavour builds on the University’s long-standing dedication to sustainability and environmental improvement.

In early 2020 a Climate Emergency Steering Group was established at the University to respond to the Climate Emergency. Chaired by Professor Thornton, the Steering Group collaborated to produce the Carbon Neutral Strategy: A Ten Point Plan for the Planet.

Adopted by the University Council in November 2020, the plan reflected the University’s commitment to achieving carbon neutrality, addressing the breadth of sustainable development and established new net zero targets for Huddersfield.

As part of this plan, the University set out to achieve net zero carbon emissions for scope 1 and scope 2 by 2030, and scope 3 by 2045 and has since made excellent progress, having already met and now surpassing its carbon reduction targets. Future projects with the KCC are now being planned including a major conference as well as support and opportunities for students to engage with the Commission.